Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross and other state and local officials joined California Dairies Inc. (CDI) at a groundbreaking ceremony in Kern County, Calif., at the future site of CDI’s new ultra-high temperature (UHT) and extended shelf-life (ESL) milk processing facility.
“This is an exciting day and marks the launch of a transformational investment being made by our farmer-owners,” said Brad Anderson, president and chief executive officer of CDI, as he made opening comments. “This new facility will process our Kern County-produced milk into innovative fluid milk products that have been seeing growth in demand throughout the U.S. and international markets.”
CDI, the largest dairy farmer-owned cooperative in California and the second largest in the United States, is building this state-of-the-art milk processing facility under the name Valley Natural Beverages. The project is being built in northern Kern County, a region with significant milk production but no local processing facilities. Not only will this investment significantly reduce the transportation distances of milk produced in Kern County, it will also further demonstrate CDI’s commitment to sustainable solutions by incorporating renewable energy sources and waste conservation as key priorities in the facility and operational design.
“As farmers, we aim to be good stewards of the land to leave a lasting legacy for future generations,” said Simon Vander Woude, CDI’s chairman of the board of directors. “CDI’s member-farms are leading the way in implementing sustainable on-farm practices, and the construction of this state-of-the-art facility will carry that mission forward.”
CDI and its family-owned dairy farms have a long history of prioritizing on-farm sustainability. In 2011, CDI co-founded Dairy Cares, a leading non-profit pursuing research and innovation in the area of sustainable dairy practices in California. More recently, CDI has adopted the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment, which aims to be carbon neutral or better by the year 2050.
The 220,000 square foot facility will be built on 30 acres of land in Northern Kern County. The facility is expected to create approximately 100 new jobs when fully operational in 2023.
CDI produces 40% of California’s milk. Co-owned by more than 300 dairy producers who ship nearly 17 billion pounds of Real California Milk annually, CDI dairy products are available in all 50 United States and in more than 50 foreign countries.