Layoffs at milk processing plant causing concern for dairy farmers

3:54 AM, Nov 7, 2012   |    comments
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CHARLESTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- Dairy farmers around Eastern Maine are worried what the impact will be from a milk processing plant shutting down in Bangor.

Dairy farms around the region sometimes ship their milk to 'Garelick Farms' in Bangor to be processed. The plant announced last month that it will be phasing out those operations by January, which will put 35 workers there out of a job.

Texas-based 'Dean Foods' owns Garelick Farms. Company officials say that they are phasing out milk processing in Bangor to become more efficient.

Yet dairy farmers like Dick Perkins, who owns 'Alfaslopes Farms' in Charleston, say that they're worried what the cost will be to them. Without the Bangor plant, many farmers will have to ship their milk to plants in Portland or Massachusetts to be processed.

"There are still several farms in Aroostook County that were going into Bangor," remarked Perkins, "I don't know what that's gonna do to their hauling rates because their closest market is gonna be Portland...well that's a long haul."

"They're still going to be able to ship their milk or sell their milk rather. It's just perhaps not at that plant," said Jamaison Schuler, who is a spokesperson for 'Dean Foods,' "but there's still an outlet for that milk...and again there's still volume or volume story there in terms that that milk is still needed."

'Dean Foods' say it does intend to keep storing and distributing processed milk from its facility in Bangor. Past January, the plant will still employ about 38 workers. The company also says it will be able to take in and process just as much milk at its other plants in New England.


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