This Morning: Dairy farmers react to St. Johns processing plant


State officials announced last week their plans for a new multi-million dollar dairy processing plant in St. Johns.

The facility is expected to create nearly 300 jobs while primarily producing cheese.

Kristi Keilen is a dairy farmers at K & K Dairy Farms in Westphalia.

She says right now she’s spending thousands of dollars each month to ship milk out of state to get processed.. however that’s all about to change.

“We won’t have to ship it out of state, we’ll just have to ship it a few miles down the road actually and that shipping cost will be ya know next to nothing for us so that will be really helpful,” says Keilen.

This will be largest dairy processing operations in the county and is set to open by the year 2020.

It’s a facility Keilen says farmers have been longing for.

“It was a huge relief on all of us knowing that okay this is going to happen,” says Keilen.

She says aside from the shipping costs, there’s so much milk being produced in Michigan, much of it is going un-used.

So this new facility will help prevent that from happening in the future.

“You put all this hard work into making this product just so to see it dumped and not used or not consumed by people so um that will be huge I think that will up life the spirits of the dairy farmers a little bit,” says Keilen.

State officials say the $500 million processing plant will consume about 20% of the milk in Michigan.

Changing the dairy industry in Michigan for the better, and making a big difference in the lives for farmers like Keilen.

“We’re nervous if we’re going to make it these next few years with the way prices are and now you know in two years we have this huge thing to look forward to. We’re going to make a lot more money and ya know it just kind of makes us smile a little bit,” says Keilen.

The facility will create 300 jobs over the next 3 years with positions ranging from engineers to mechanics.

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