Continental Dairy Facilities and Fairlife, two separate companies located on the same processing site in Coopersville, as well as Herbruck Poultry Ranch Inc. in Ionia County, were awarded Food and Agriculture Investment Program grants by the state.
The grant program is aimed at providing financial support projects that help expand food and agriculture processing to enable growth in the industry and Michigan’s economy. Projects are selected based on their impact to the overall agriculture industry and their impact to food and agriculture growth and investment in Michigan.
Continental Dairy Facilities and Fairlife will use its $225,000 performance-based grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to expand operations to include new products and production lines. Fairlife aims to increase capacity by adding a third packaging line to produce Fairlife milk, Core Power and Yup. The additional line will result in $120 million in private investment and 42 new jobs. Continental Dairy is expanding operations to produce butter and buttermilk powder from cream, which will result in $53 million in private investment and 10 new jobs. In total, the companies will invest $173 million and create 52 new jobs to support the Coopersville Dairy Park Campus.
Herbruck Poultry Ranch will receive a $100,000 performance-based grant to help convert much of the operation to cage-free housing. The company, which began in the late 1920s and remains family-owned and managed, has several major customers that are moving toward requiring certified cage-free egg production by 2025. To meet this objective, Herbruck Poultry will convert a layer facility (about 3 million layers) in Ionia to cage-free housing by 2024. This project will create 50 new jobs over three years.
“This is our first round of Food and Agriculture Investment Program grants, and I couldn’t be more excited about the impact they could have on Michigan agriculture and jobs,” says MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams. “Through these grants, and with the investment of other partners and stakeholders, we can help ensure Michigan’s food and agriculture businesses remain national leaders in food production and consumer trends. This is a great example of how a public-private partnership can work to create jobs and improve communities.”
The expansion and development of Continental and Fairlife will require additional wastewater treatment capacity, which is estimated to cost $3.7 million. The grant will be used for the wastewater project to support the expansions from both companies.
The grant announcement was made after the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development met for its March meeting.
"The commission is proud to support these development projects," says Dru Montri, chairman of the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development. "The investment in infrastructure improvements will increase capacity and contribute to the growth of Michigan's food and agriculture industry."
Both projects require additional funds to meet their goals. In addition to the MDARD funding, the Herbruck Poultry Ranch project is being considered for support from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the Michigan Department of Transportation and Ionia County. Additional funds received would be used to improve public roads to support the project.
And on March 28, the Michigan Strategic Fund board authorized a $2.4 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant for the Continental/Fairlife project. The city of Coopersville also has offered support to the project through a $1.1 million upgrade to its own wastewater treatment plant.