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April 10, 2001

Agri-Mark Farmers Hold Annual Meeting In Vermont

Updated on past year and recent industry changes

Burlington, Vt. - Agri-Mark, Inc., the region's premier dairy farmer cooperative, begins its two-day annual meeting in Vermont today to report to its members on its past year of activities and success of its Cabot business. More than 400 dairy farmers and industry guests will attend this meeting to be updated on the past year of Agri-Mark plant cooperative operations and industry events. Agri-Mark has 475 dairy farm families in Vermont among its 1,400 members and had year-end profits of $1.9 million. "Our business growth has been phenomenal, especially on the Cabot side of our business," says Paul P. Johnston, President and General Manager. "We set new records for Cabot sales, added customers on the Agri-Mark side of the business, and each year we are continuing to build a more profitable milk marketing system. "Agri-Mark had sales of $520 million this past year and last fall completed the construction of a $20 million whey protein processing plant in Middlebury. Agri-Mark captures valuable proteins from the whey -- a by-product of its cheddar cheese operations in Cabot and Middlebury -- and markets them throughout the world. Agri-Mark/Cabot has more than 430 employees in the state, and an annual Vermont payroll of more than $10.2 million.The farmer cooperative has a total of 600 employees in four locations in New England and is ranked among the top 25 private companies in the region, based upon annual sales. "Our industry is changing rapidly, and as dairy farmers, we must be prepared to control our own financial destiny through value-added marketing," says Carl Peterson, a dairy farmer from Delanson, N.Y., who serves as Agri-Mark's Chairman of the Board. "With unbelievable consolidation on the milk processors side of the business, farmers must continue to work together if they want a fair farm milk price." From a dairy farmer perspective, Peterson notes that it is important for farmers to continue to work together as their market strength has decreased in the face of consolidation and growth in other areas of the industry. Farmers and their cooperatives must also work in areas other than value-added marketing to increase dairy farmer income, particularly on pricing mechanisms like the Northeast Dairy Compact, he says. The first day of the annual meeting will give Peterson, Johnston and the cooperative staff a chance to update farmer-members on the Dairy Compact, their Cabot business growth and Agri-Mark operations. More importantly, he says, Agri-Mark is reporting to its members on the actions it will take during the coming year to ensure that farmers are receiving a fair milk price. On the second day of the meeting, farmers will discuss and vote on resolutions that set cooperative policy for the coming year. There is also ample time set aside for open discussion and exchange of ideas between the membership, Board of Directors and management staff. Agri-Mark has been steadily investing in Vermont, and as part of the meeting, farmer members will be given tours of the co-op's Middlebury cheddar and protein processing plant. Since Agri-Mark and Cabot merged in 1992, Agri-Mark's asset base in Vermont has grown from $30 million to more than $86 million today between its Middlebury and Cabot locations. "Farm families have been on a roller-coaster ride as far as milk prices,'says Chairman Peterson. "We expect that will continue, so we are continuing to make solid investments in the future. In 2001, our goals are to improve our dairy farmer member income and further increase profits," he says. - 30 -


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