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Dairy is big business in Fillmore County

Mon, Jun 4th, 2012
Posted in All Agriculture

A truck from Caledonia Haulers stops at Foremost Farms in Preston for a milk delivery. Photo by Jade Sexton

Fillmore County has many dairy farms; 86 of them as of 2010, the vast majority of them run by families. These farms provide much more than milk and other dairy products. They do a lot for the local economy by supplying jobs as well. The milk they produce travels many miles and goes through many processes before ending up in the grocery stores.

Foremost Farms in Preston receives milk from many different haulers. Plant manager John Ebner said that things have changed a lot in the last few years as far as the process.

“Milk is now going directly to the processing plants,” said Ebner.

Because of this, many trucks are now making longer trips to haul the milk where it needs to go. Milk from the area goes to places like Kwik Trip, Kemps, Zumbrota, and even to plants in Wisconsin. Foremost Farms in Preston has patrons in many states across the country.

Ebner has worked in the plant for 33 years, and has been Plant Manager for five years. The plant itself has gone through many changes over the years.

“We are organic certified,” explained Ebner. “We have organic customers ship us their skim milk and we send it out east for yogurt production.”

Foremost also condenses organic skim milk and dries it into a powdered form, and they do the same with buttermilk and why protein. These dried forms are sold to wholesale retailers, and are used in many different food products.

Ebner also explained that when they send whole milk from the farm to the processing plants, it is separated. The cream is used to make butter, and the skim milk is used in making cheese.

Milk is also condensed to one-quarter the amount at the plant, making it easier and cheaper to haul. Sometimes the long trips hauling milk can cause it to separate, so trucks stop in to places like Foremost to have it mixed up. This helps maintain the quality of the milk.

“The milk around here gets used a lot,” commented Ebner. “We run 24/7 around here. We are very busy.”

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