Each day, the Tillamook County Creamery Association churns out more than 500,000 pounds of high-quality cheese at their factories in Tillamook and Boardman, Oregon.
That’s about 180 million pounds of cheese each year that they then ship across the country.
Increasing efficiency, decreasing waste
Today, some cheese-making byproducts, notably whey and lactose, are not being further processed into higher value products, particularly at the plant in Boardman. But with a new, $66 million term loan from CoBank, Tillamook is planning to build a new facility there that will enable the whey and lactose to be further re-processed and then sold for use in other food products and pharmaceuticals.
Tillamook CEO Patrick Criteser said the project will enable the farmer-owned dairy cooperative to be more efficient and tap into new markets.
“We’re excited about this new capability and the promise it brings to Tillamook,” Criteser said. “This investment represents a significant commitment by our farmer owners to the continued growth of our company."
The benefits of cooperative ownership
Tillamook, which has been around for more than 100 years, is owned by approximately 110 dairy farming families, many of whom are third generation co-op members. The co-op makes the No. 1 selling brand of natural chunk cheese in the West, in addition to offering a variety of other cheeses and dairy products. Tillamook has been doing business with CoBank for decades.
“As a cooperative, our profits go back to our farmer-owners to help ensure economic sustainability and preserve a way of life for future generations,” said Don Desjarlais, Tillamook’s chief financial officer. “We like the fact that CoBank is a cooperative, too. That’s important to us. CoBank understands our business, and as customer-owners we know they are committed to our success.”