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Agri-Mark cooperative announces profits

By: DAN HEATH

PLATTSBURGH — For the seventh year in a row, members of the Agri-Mark dairy cooperative will share more than $10 million in after-taxes profit.

The cooperative said its 1,200 members in New England and New York will share $11 million, up from $10.2 million last year.

Each farm will receive about 3 cents per gallon for milk marketed through the cooperative last year, about $9,000 for the average farm.

TAKING PRIDE

Elizabeth Trombly of Poppydale Farm in Chateaugay said they have a herd of about 60 head, including 25 cows that are milked at present. They joined the co-op eight years ago, when she had five cows. During that time, the farm has grown to its present size.

They appreciate the security Agri-Mark provides when milk sales slow, she said, such as its Cabot and McCadam cheese plants in Vermont and Chateaugay, respectively.

Trombly said the McCadam plant is especially dear to her heart, as she works there part-time.

“I take great pride in knowing my milk helps make that cheese,” she said.

The cooperative’s advocacy efforts on the state and federal levels are also important in helping regional dairy farmers have their voices heard.

NEW CHEDDAR COMING

The profit sharing comes on top of a record $23.4 million that Agri-Mark farmers received in their monthly milk checks throughout the year for extra high-quality milk and other premiums; another $6.5 million in milk-hauling subsidies and an IRS tax-deduction worth a total of $21 million.

Agri-Mark CEO Dr. Richard Stammer said the cooperative’s overall business continued to generate profits for its farmers despite a very challenging marketplace.

“We saw continued growth in our naturally aged cheddar and fresh Cabot butter sales,” he said in a press release.

“We hope to keep our sales momentum moving forward going into 2014 by introducing our new line of premium cheddars, called our Legacy Collection, over the next several months.”

ADDING VALUE

Neal Rea, a dairy farmer from Cambridge who is also chair of the Agri-Mark Board of Directors, said they are pleased with another successful year, but will continue to work to make the business even more profitable.

Domestic and international sales of whey proteins were again very strong, he said. That is a key part of the product diversity that helps keep the cooperative profitable in difficult times.

The cooperative had sales of milk and manufactured dairy products of $952 million last year, up from $880 million the previous year.

“We know that our monthly milk check is not enough to cover (our) farmers’ expenses and the investments each has made in their own businesses,” Rea said.

“Agri-Mark’s mission is to add greater value to our members’ milk by affording them their share of the brand’s profits and to provide members with the services they want and expect from their cooperative.

“We will pursue this mission with continued vigor in 2014 and thank our consumers every day for buying our dairy products.”

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com

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