February 7, 2003
Year-end return allocated to the co-op's dairy farmersMethuen, Mass. -- Agri-Mark dairy farmer-owners will share in a $6.8 million profit for the company's fiscal year ended November 30, 2002, up from the $5.7 million profit the cooperative recorded last year. For a dairy farmer milking 100 cows, that means more than $5,000 in extra added value for their milk. The cooperative's profit allocation to its dairy farmer-members will be $.29 per hundredweight on their farm's milk production during the 2002 fiscal year. Checks were mailed to Agri-Mark farmers today for the cash portion of their allocated share. Officials at Agri-Mark say the continued strength of the cooperative's Cabot branded business and the contributions made by the company's whey protein manufacturing plant in Middlebury, Vt., led the way to another successful year. "The commitment our farmers have made over the years to invest in their own processing facilities is paying off," says Carl Peterson, a dairy farmer from Delanson, N.Y., who serves as the cooperative's Chairman of the Board. "Our Cabot brand of dairy products continues to expand and we have an excellent market for our whey proteins. With farm prices so low, farmers need these profits and every other bit of income they can get." Peterson said that if Northeast dairy farmers are to have more control over their milk price, they need to work together through their cooperatives and invest in value-added marketing. Agri-Mark farmers own the Cabot brand of award-winning Vermont dairy products and just recently acquired both the McCadam brand of New York cheeses and its manufacturing plant in Chateaugay, N.Y. "As dairy farmers and suppliers of a great product, we are only at the beginning of the marketing chain," says Peterson. "We have to actively do something to change that and get closer to the consumer, so we can capture a larger portion of the dollars they spend on dairy products. That, in a nutshell, is Agri-Mark's marketing philosophy." Paul P. Johnston, Agri-Mark CEO, says he is pleased with the progress the cooperative has made in the past several years. "Our financial turnaround really began when we started marketing our Cabot products and expanded sales into more regions of the country," says Johnston. "The more milk we put into our own branded products, the more control we have over our price." Johnston says the outlook for the cooperative looks good in the years ahead, and he is enthusiastic about Agri-Mark's recent merger with the Chateaugay Cooperative and the purchase of the assets of McCadam Cheese. "We"re trying to position our overall business in a way that will bring us to the next level of profitability for our farmer-owners," says Johnston. "That's our mission. That's what we work to do every day." Agri-Mark, with approximately $550 million in 2002 sales, markets more than 300 million gallons of farm fresh milk each year for 1,450 dairy farm families in New England and New York. The cooperative has been marketing milk for dairy farmers since 1917, and also represents their legislative interests in the Northeast and in Washington, D.C. In addition to its manufacture and sale of branded dairy products, Agri-Mark has invested in operations to manufacture and market valuable whey proteins and sells fluid milk from its farmers to the region's largest dairy processors.