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Upstate Niagara Cooperative

May 13, 2022 - 1:19pm
posted by Press Release in Upstate Niagara Cooperative, business.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of Upstate Niagara Cooperative has announced that Kevin Ellis was chosen to become its new CEO, replacing current CEO Larry Webster, who will be retiring.

Ellis is currently the CEO of Cayuga Milk Ingredients, an Auburn, N.Y.-based producer of high-quality specialized dairy ingredients, and Cayuga Marketing, a 9C cooperative of members who own and manage successful dairy farm businesses in Central New York. He will assume the position of Upstate Niagara Cooperative’s CEO no later than September 6, 2022.

“Kevin is a visionary leader who will be communicative and approachable at all levels of the organization,” said John T. Gould, President and Chairman of the Cooperative’s Board. “It is also our belief that working with Upstate Niagara Cooperative’s dedicated executive team and staff, he will not only help to continue Upstate Niagara’s legacy but build upon and enhance it.”

Webster, who joined Upstate Niagara Cooperative in 2005 and served as CEO for the past decade, announced his retirement in January. The Board began the process of finding and naming his replacement immediately thereafter.

“We wanted to ensure a seamless transition,” said Gould. “And Larry has generously agreed to continue leading the Cooperative until that transfer has been successfully completed. It’s important our farmers and customers are assured nothing will change in the interim, and know Larry is leaving Upstate Niagara in an excellent position.”

Webster’s tenure at Upstate Niagara Cooperative was marked by the company experiencing a period of unprecedented growth and expansion, recently becoming a billion-dollar business.

“I’m extremely proud of the success we’ve seen over the past decade,” said Webster, “but I’m looking forward to relaxing and spending time with my family.”

Ellis has extensive experience in C-Level management, with concentrations in finance and marketing. He was CEO of Cayuga Milk Ingredients and Cayuga Marketing for 14 years, and has also held positions as a dairy nutritionist, loan officer and financial consultant. He holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Cornell University, and an MBA from the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School.

“Upstate Niagara’s tagline - ‘Milk is Our Life’s Work,’ immediately resonated with me,” said Ellis. “I grew up on a dairy farm, which is still in operation. I’ve dedicated my professional life to helping the dairy farming industry produce nutritious milk products. I look forward to building upon Upstate Niagara’s core values and leading the cooperative into even more exciting and fruitful enterprises.”

January 10, 2022 - 2:00pm

Press Release:

The Board of Directors of Upstate Niagara Cooperative would like to announce the planned retirement of Lawrence C. Webster, Chief Executive Officer, on June 30, 2022. The Board will commence the process of selecting the next CEO for Upstate Niagara to ensure a seamless transition.

 “I cannot adequately express my appreciation to the Board for the continuous support and encouragement I have received during my tenure. It has been an honor to serve the Cooperative as CEO,” said Webster.

“The Board sincerely and heartily congratulates Larry Webster on his planned retirement,” said John T. Gould, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Larry has been the champion of our Cooperative’s unprecedented growth and success, profoundly and positively impacting our member dairy farms, employees, customers and communities. Upstate Niagara is undeniably stronger and more resilient as a result of his leadership.” 

Mr. Webster joined Upstate Niagara Cooperative in 2005 and has served as Chief Executive Officer for the past decade. Under his leadership, the Cooperative has charted a course of extraordinary growth and expansion, recently becoming a billion-dollar business.

To learn more about Upstate Niagara Cooperative, visit upstateniagara.com.

November 22, 2021 - 4:39pm

The new pretreatment plan at O-At-Ka Milk Products, Inc., is operational -- and that is good news for the Upstate Niagara Cooperative-owned facility at 700 Ellicott St.

However, according to Chief Executive Officer William Schreiber, the company’s inability to increase the amount of wastewater it sends into the City of Batavia’s Waste Water Treatment Plant has not changed – and that is not so good news as talks with city officials in that particular area have stalled.

“Once the city decided not to accept our offer to help accelerate oxygenation of the (WWTP) lagoons, we directed all our resources to the successful commissioning of the new pretreatment plant,” Schreiber said today by email in response to questions from The Batavian.

“We have not been in touch with the city regarding any additional loading for the past two weeks; hence, we assume their position hasn’t changed.”

An email sent around 1 this afternoon to City Attorney George Van Nest seeking an update on the WWTP’s recovery to permitted Dissolved Oxygen levels has yet to be returned.

Because the city has restricted O-At-Ka’s discharge over the past few months, the company has been forced to transport wastewater from its property to other locations.

“Hauling of wastewater has continued to be reduced on a daily basis throughout the commissioning of the new plant,” Schreiber said, pointing out that it has cost O-At-Ka more than $1 million in trucking related charges.

Meanwhile, workers have continued to upgrade the milk processing plant’s pretreatment capabilities.

“We began commissioning (the new plant) one week ahead of schedule,” Schreiber said. “Since then, we have been steadily increasing both the flow and organic loading to the new plant.  As of the end of last week, things are progressing according to plan.”

The CEO said O-At-Ka is incrementally increasing flow to the new pretreatment plant and decreasing flow to the older plant, which are located off Cedar Street.

“We are presently operating at approximately 50 percent capacity from design flow and 35 percent capacity of design loading.  In both cases this has doubled in the past seven days,” he added.

Schreiber said he is encouraged by the “numbers,” explaining that “the biology is starting to attach to the media and growth is proceeding consistent with expectations.”

He said a new equalization tank will be incorporated as the main flow tank by the end of the month and assembly of the new Dissolved Air Flotation has been completed on site along with the installation of the polymer addition line.

The DAF, not part of the original design, helps facilitate a process that removes solids before the wastewater enters the Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor and reduces the load.

The situation regarding O-At-Ka’s wastewater pollutant levels into the city’s lagoons came to light in mid-October when John Gould, Upstate Niagara chairman, addressed city council.

At that time, Van Nest said the city had no choice but to issue a “cease and desist” letter to O-At-Ka after discovering exceedingly high levels of contaminants in wastewater discharged by the facility.  More recently, the city attorney reported that the lagoons are returning to normal levels, but still have a ways to go.

Previously: City sends 'cease and desist' letter to O-At-Ka Milk as issues at waste water treatment plant continue

Previously: Meeting with engineers working with city give O-At-Ka CEO optimism that wastewater issue can be solved

December 11, 2020 - 12:04pm

Press release:

After first raising concerns about Canada’s allocation of tariff-rate quotas for U.S. exports of dairy products in June and again in September, U.S. senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand applauded the U.S. Trade Representative’s decision to file a United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement enforcement action against Canada to protect New York’s dairy farmers and ensure fairer market access.

In a statement issued today (Dec. 11) Schumer and Gillibrand said, “Dairy is New York’s primary agricultural product and our dairy farmers are the lifeblood of the Upstate economy. They have been hit especially hard and squeezed by the economic effects of the pandemic, and poor implementation of USMCA provisions by Canada over the past five months will only further hinder their ability to recover from this crisis.

"Yesterday’s filing of the first-ever USMCA enforcement action by the United States to protect New York’s dairy farmers from Canada’s unfair allocation of tariff-rate quotas is a necessary step to ensuring that the Upstate New York dairy industry fully benefits from the agreement’s expanded market access opportunities, unimpeded by unreasonable trade barriers.

"New York’s dairy industry must have Canada fully abide by its USMCA dairy pricing and export policy commitments. We must continue to hold Canada and our other trading partners accountable and ensure equitable trading practices to help New York’s dairy farmers churn up profits that mitigate the huge losses they have suffered this year.”

September 2, 2020 - 6:07pm

The passing of a resolution authorizing the Town of Batavia to apply for a $750,000 New York State grant is welcome news to officials of Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc., the dairy farmer-owned conglomerate that purchased the former Alpina Foods plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park on East Main Street Road.

“We’re targeting on opening as soon as reasonably possible pending the OCR (Office of Community Renewal Community Development Block Grant) approval and equipment ordering, as we need additional equipment for the facility,” said Mike Patterson, chief financial officer for the company – formed in 2006 as a result of a merger between Upstate Farms Cooperative and Niagara Milk Cooperative.

The Batavia Town Board this afternoon passed the measure, along with another OCR grant application for the same amount for a $21.6 million project at HP Hood LLC, in the Agri-Business Park to install a new filler line. The HP Hood plan would created about 56 new jobs, including positions that would provide entry-level employee training.

The Alpina plant has been vacant for the last 18 months following Upstate’s $22.5 million purchase of what was a $60 million investment by Alpina, a Colombia-based company that attempted to break into the U.S. Greek yogurt market more than six years ago.

Patterson said company leaders have been “trying to figure out the best use for the plant,” adding that they spent another $1 million since the acquisition and are investing an additional $4,040,000 to get the processing plant up and running.

Currently, Upstate has employees working at its membership office in the R.E. Chapin building and at the O-At-Ka Milk Products facility, both on Ellicott Street Road.

All told, the cooperative employs 1,800 people in New York, Patterson said, with the opening of the Batavia plant expected to create 50 more jobs.

Patterson said the OCR grant will support the purchase of necessary equipment and the training of new employees.

“One of the toughest issues we face in this area is finding qualified help, so we’re trying to get employees that are ready to be trained, and they will be brought into our manufacturing sites – not only for us but for Hood and O-At-Ka and other places,” he said. “It was all part of this project.”

The Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation, an arm of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, is acting as a pass-through for the grant/loan to reach Upstate.

“We get involved with the Office of Community Renewal and have done a bunch of these projects throughout time when we get great companies investing in Genesee County,” said Chris Suozzi, GCEDC vice president of Business Development. “We want to be able to help them out.”

He said the OCR program has been “our friend” and is confident that Upstate will receive the grant.

“It’s one of the great grant or low-interest loan programs,” he said. “The grant program is kind of how we’ve devised it with the companies, and it helps them continue to grow.”

Patterson said the current project does not include any tax incentives from the GCEDC.

“The original IDA (Industrial Development Agency) tax abatements were given to Alpina when they built the facility. There is no new additional IDA money that way for that (but) there would be on any future expansion.”

June 25, 2020 - 2:43pm

Press release:

After fiercely advocating for federal aid to New York’s dairy farmers in the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today urged United States Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer to quickly raise concerns about Canada evading its commitments under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Canada agree to eliminate harmful dairy trade practices, including its Class 7 pricing program (Class 6 in Ontario) and lack of transparency in milk-pricing regulations. Both were explicitly addressed in the agreement, which enters into force next week on July 1.

“New York’s dairy farmers are the lifeblood of the Upstate economy, but unfortunately, they have been squeezed by the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis,” Senator Schumer said. “That is why I am calling on Ambassador Lighthizer to do everything in his power to ensure that Canada abides by its dairy trade obligations and eliminates its unfair and harmful pricing programs and practices that unfairly impeded Upstate New York dairy farmers from freely selling their product – as agreed to in the new trade agreement with Canada, the USMCA.

As the trade deal enters into force next week, it is imperative that our New York dairy farmers are able to sell their products into Canada and churn up profits that mitigate the huge losses they have suffered this year.”

“USMCA requires Canada to provide new market access for American dairy products and to eliminate its destructive Classes 6 and 7 milk pricing schemes,” said Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president for Policy Strategy and International Trade with the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council. “While not unexpected, Canada’s efforts to manipulate its agreed upon trade obligations to protect its tightly controlled dairy market are unacceptable.

"Canada needs to live up to the commitments it made to the U.S. on dairy. America’s dairy industry appreciates Senator Schumer for his leadership on this issue and we support Ambassador Lighthizer and Secretary Purdue as the U.S. works to hold Canada accountable to its commitments under USMCA.”

“Cayuga Milk Ingredients applauds the efforts of New York’s Senator Schumer for raising concerns over Canada’s recent request for dairy pricing secrecy within the Ontario Provincial Tribunal and their most recent administration of TRQs," said Kevin J. Ellis, CEO Cayuga Milk Ingredients. "On both issues, Canada is showing they have no desire to act in good faith with respect to the trade commitments they made underneath USMCA.

"Cayuga Milk Ingredients suffered a loss of nearly $24 million of sales in 2016 when Canada implemented a National Class 7 pricing scheme that was specifically and intentionally designed to stop the importation of ultra-filtered milk. Based on these latest events, it appears Canada cannot be trusted to honor its trade commitments with the United States,”

Craig Alexander, senior director, Milk Planning and Regulatory Affairs at O-AT-KA Milk Products in Batavia, said, “A foundation principle of the new USMCA pertaining to Canada was transparency of pricing formulation and the elimination of its Class 7 pricing. We appreciate Senator Schumer’s push for Canada to live up to its commitments in this agreement.

"Canada should not obscure information on pricing now in order to artificially create a pricing environment that will keep us at a disadvantage once these USMCA provisions go into force. Furthermore, Canada’s implementation of TRQs negotiated as part of USMCA and reserving increased access almost entirely to existing Canadian dairy companies is evidence that Canada has not changed its past history of circumventing trade agreements.

"If Canada simply held up their end of the deal on eliminating Class 7 and fair implementation of TRQs, we could again get a fair shake at the opportunities to serve the Canadian market going forward.”

Schumer explained that under USMCA, Canada agreed to eliminate Class 6 & 7 pricing within six months. However, the Senator revealed, Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO), which represents approximately 4,000 Canadian dairy farmers, has recently requested that Ontario’s tribunal, which provides an avenue of appeal on agriculture issues, grant restricted access to DFO’s pricing regulations.

Schumer argued that with only a few days left until the USMCA is set to enter into force, the lack of transparency and timing of DFO’s request raises questions about whether or not Canada is seeking to circumvent its dairy commitments in USMCA.

Additionally, Schumer pointed out, under USMCA, Canada agreed to an expansion of tariff rate quotas (TRQs) for several categories of U.S. dairy products. However, the U.S. dairy industry has raised concerns that Canada’s recently released TRQ allocations weaken the intent of USMCA and will prevent New York dairy farmers from fully benefiting from the agreement’s expanded market access opportunities.

May 1, 2020 - 1:10pm

Press release:

The Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA) today announced that farms and co-ops located across Upstate New York have donated more than 34,000 pounds of milk, beef, fruit and vegetables to fellow New Yorkers in need. 

In addition to the NY-sourced milk and food, packets of crayons and coloring books for kids have also been donated, and were made available to families today, May 1, at Senator Jessica Ramos’ district office in East Elmhurst, Queens.

The following donations were made possible by a partnership between Senator Ramos and a number of New York State farms:

  • 300 pounds of beef donated by La Casa De Leche Farm (Livingston County) and the Northeast Dairy Producers Association.
  • 1,700 gallons of milk donated by Dairy Farmers of America.
  • 20,000 apples equaling 5,700 pounds donated by Farm Fresh First Inc., which markets NY apples from more than 100 apple growers throughout the state.
  • 14,000 pounds of onions, 8,000 pounds of potatoes and 4,000 pounds of cabbage donated by Torrey Farms Inc. (Genesee County) and the New York State Vegetable Growers Association
  • 2,880 pounds of blueberry and vanilla parfait yogurt donated by Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc., a dairy cooperative located in Western New York.
  • 575 packs of Prang Crayons made with soybean oil donated by the New York Corn & Soybean Growers Association, along with coloring books sponsored by New York dairy farmers and donated through American Dairy Association North East.

On Wednesday, a truck left Western New York packed with beef, vegetables, fruit, yogurt, crayons and coloring books. The truck stopped at Dean Foods in Rensselaer County to pick up 1,700 gallons of milk and arrived in Queens yesterday.

Many areas in Senate District 13, including Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona and parts of Woodside and Astoria — are considered food deserts, making it difficult to obtain fresh meals. Additionally, there are few local food pantries that remain open in the area as many residents have fallen ill with COVID-19. 

The donations of food, milk, crayons and coloring books were distributed to families in need today. A hot meal distribution will also take place on Saturday, May 2 at Senator Ramos’ office. 

“In addition to the unspeakable loss of life caused by the coronavirus pandemic, two additional devastating tragedies are unfolding during this crisis — a spike in hunger as the economic pain takes its toll, and the breakdown of our food supply chain,” Senator Ramos said.

“We cannot have hungry families in New York City, and farmers Upstate dumping their product because they cannot sell it. Together with our farmer partners, we created our own network, and we will convert our district office into a food distribution hub to provide our neighbors with fresh produce and meals.” 

Northeast Dairy Producers Association Vice Chair and Owner of La Casa De Leche Farm (Livingston County) Keith Kimball said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all -- our families, our businesses and the greater New York community.

"By pooling resources and working together to adapt to unprecedented market disruption, we’re able to get milk, beef and produce in the hands of those in need. I’m proud to partner with farmers, co-ops and processors across the state to make this donation a reality, and thankful to Senator Ramos for hosting the event for families in Queens.”

Maureen Torrey, co-owner of Torrey Farms Inc. in Genesee County, said, “Thanks to the passionate employees on our family farm and our dedicated truck drivers, we’re able to donate 26,000 pounds of vegetables to families in need, including onions that Senator Ramos helped us plant last year.

"This public health crisis has changed life as we know it, but what we’ve learned is that no matter where you live -- Buffalo, Plattsburgh, New York City and everywhere in between -- we’re all New Yorkers -- and together We are New York Tough.” 

(File photo of Maureen Torrey taken in 2013.)

Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA) is an organization of dairy producers and industry partners committed to an economically viable, consumer-conscious dairy industry dedicated to the care and well-being of our communities, environment, employees and cows.

February 7, 2020 - 12:15pm

Press release:

The Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC) Board of Directors approved the sale of 28 acres of land parcels in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park at its Feb. 6 board meeting.

HP Hood is purchasing 22 acres and Upstate Niagara Cooperative is purchasing six acres. Both companies have plans to grow and expand their businesses in the Ag Park over the next several years. 

HP Hood and Upstate Niagara Cooperative are part of a food and beverage manufacturing hub that has invested more than $500 million into a food and beverage manufacturing hub that including the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park has more than 1 million square feet of facilities and more than 700 workers.

With the sale of the 28 acres, there are approximately 80 acres remaining in the Ag Park, including a 30-acre site with direct railroad access and a retail-friendly parcel at the park’s entrance on Route 5.

March 2, 2019 - 8:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, business, batavia, notify, Upstate Niagara Cooperative.

An executive with Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc. announced that it has signed a purchase agreement to buy the Alpina Foods plant in Batavia.

Larry Webster, chief executive officer of Upstate Niagara, broke the news at tonight's Genesee County Chamber of Commerce awards ceremony at Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

The Alpina plant is located in the Genesee Valley Agri-business park at 5140 Ag Park Drive West. The plant operated by the yogurt maker closed in January.

UPDATE 10:20 p.m. (by Howard): After tonight's Chamber awards, Webster said Upstate's immediate plans for the former Alpina plant aren't settled but that acquiring an ultramodern dairy-processing facility in a strong milk shed where Upstate has been looking to expand was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

"The way I termed it, it's the farm next door," Webster said. "When it came up for sale we were looking to expand and so it just kind all worked out well."

The plant represents a $60 million investment by Alpina, a Colombia-based company that attempted to crack the U.S. greek-yogurt market by opening the plant in the Genesee Valley Ag-Business Park five years ago. Webster said Upstate will pay somewhere in the neighborhood of the $20 million to $25 million asking price on the plant but said he wasn't ready to disclose the purchase price.

"We just knew that it was an opportunity to pick up a production-ready plant in our area and so we did," Webster said. "We're not 100-percent sure exactly what we're going to do there yet."

The plant will be filled, Webster said and he expects that the plant is ready to employ 40 to 60 people, and more if the plant expands. Part of what attracted Upstate to the property is that while the plant sits on a 10-acre parcel, there is a 10-acre parcel next to it that is vacant but is included with the purchase.

"That makes room for expansion, which we were interested in," Webster said. "It's in the right place at the right time and ready to go. We've got some customers that we think could fit in there quite well and we could utilize it fairly quickly."

Frequently, Upstate operates on a co-packing basis with clients who need a production facility for their dairy-product brands. Webster indicated he expects that's how the former Alpina plant will be used.

The purchase offer was signed Thursday and is contingent on a due-diligence process but Webster didn't expect any issues to arise before the acquisition is final.

The project will likely also be eligible for an incentive package from the Genesee County Economic Development Center, which also provided more than $700,000 to Alpina to build and expand the plant, according to a source who was at Saturday's dinner. The scope and nature of the incentive package has not yet been settled on. 

When Massachusetts-based HP Hood bought the former Muller Quaker plant, which is also in the ag park, it also negotiated an updated tax-abatement package with GCEDC.

Webster said he doesn't expect Upstate will follow the example of Dairy Farmers of America, which purchased the former Muller Quaker plant across the street and flipped it to HP Hood a year later without ever producing any product at the plant.

"That's not in our plans at all," Webster said. "We bought it for our use and our history is just that. We've been operating plants for quite awhile and didn't buy it because we thought it was cheap and we could turn around and resell it or anything like that. We felt we paid a fair price for it but it's for our use."

March 1, 2019 - 11:38am

Editor's note: The  2018 Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Awards banquet will be held Saturday, March 2, at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc., a dairy cooperative owned by 340 farm families located throughout Western New York, will be honored March 2 as the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce’s Agricultural Organization of the Year.

“On behalf of our member-owners, especially those located in Genesee County, we are honored to be presented with this award by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce,” said Keith Telaak, senior marketing manager of Upstate Niagara Cooperative. “We are grateful of this recognition and are proud to be a part of the Genesee County community.”

Upstate Niagara Cooperative is a result of several mergers, acquisitions, and consolidations of local dairy processors over the past 100 years, as dairy farmers realized the need for increased efficiencies to be able to grow their businesses and compete in the changing marketplace, Telaak said.

In 2006 Upstate Farms Cooperative and Niagara Milk Cooperative consolidated, bringing together two of the nation’s top dairy cooperatives. Its history, however, goes back even further.

Some of Upstate Niagara Cooperative’s family-owned farms have been in existence for more than six generations, according to Telaak.

The cooperative operates seven manufacturing facilities – three fluid plants (Buffalo, Rochester and Williamsport, Pa.), with their main office in Buffalo; two cultured facilities (West Seneca and North Lawrence); one cheese plant in Campbell; and O-AT-KA Milk Products in Batavia. The Membership Office is also located in Batavia, Telaak added. 

“Our mission is to serve each one of our customers the highest quality dairy products and services, in order to market milk and maximize returns for our dairy farmer owners, while providing a rewarding environment for our employees,” Telaak said.

“Our commitment to quality dairy products extends to every stage of production, from the farm to the consumer. The success of our cooperative begins with the passion and dedication of our farmer-owners to work hard every single day to produce the highest quality milk.”

Upstate Niagara’s high-quality dairy products have earned several first-place awards at dairy competitions, including their Bison French Onion Dip and light sour cream. They are marketed to consumers throughout the country.

Their products include milk, flavored milk, yogurt, dip, sour cream, cheese and ice cream marketed under the Upstate Farms, Valley Farms; Intense Milk for consumers looking for a healthier way to indulge; Bison; and Milk for Life. 

“We are also a private label manufacturer of dairy products for many of the largest retailers throughout the country,” Telaak said. 

Today, Upstate Niagara employs more than 1,400 people in their offices, manufacturing facilities and distribution network. 

Batavia was chosen as the site for the Membership Office because of its central location to member farmers in Western New York, Telaak said. Mike Davis is plant manager of the Batavia plant.

July 14, 2016 - 12:20pm

Pictured at the ribbon-cutting ceremony are, back from left: Mark Niederpruem, Warehouse manager; Dan Wolf, chairman of Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc.; Dave Nutting, VIP Structures; Front from left: Paul Battaglia, chairman of Genesee County Economic Development Center; Bill Schreiber, CEO; Michael Patterson, CFO; Larry Webster, CEO Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc.; and John Gould, chairman of O-AT-KA.

Submitted photos and press release:

O-AT-KA Milk Products is pleased to announce that it held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its newly expanded warehousing storage and material handling facility in Batavia on July 11.

In attendance were O-AT-KA’s and Upstate Niagara Cooperative’s Board of Directors; key vendors and contractors for the project; banking representatives; local business leaders and invited guests.

“Project Rubicon affords O-AT-KA the opportunity to address three key focus points of our business; namely, employee safety, product quality and operational efficiencies," said Michael Patterson, O-AT-KA’s chief financial officer. "The viability of the project was supported via our strong relationships with the community, the municipalities and our key vendors and stakeholders."

O-AT-KA’s commitment to innovation is demonstrated within the expansion which added over 235,000 square feet to its Batavia plant. A second phase of the project has been initiated to capture efficiencies and optimize material handling equipment and processes. The new facility and equipment phase of the project allows the company to meet increasing customer demand, improve global competitiveness and allow for future growth of production capabilities. The project will significantly improve upon O-AT-KA’s already high standards of safety and quality.

“The implementation of Rubicon will advance our ability to serve customers, significantly improve our competitive position and is testimony to the vision and commitment of our farmer owners,” said Chief Executive Officer Bill Schreiber.

Founded in 1959, O-AT-KA is a manufacturer and co-packer of dairy-based products and ready-to-drink shelf stable beverages and is one of Genesee County’s largest employers. It is located at the corner of Cedar and Ellicott streets.

November 29, 2011 - 9:42pm

With the planned yogurt plants for Alpina and PepsiCo in Batavia, there's nothing but opportunity ahead for regional dairy farmers, according to Kim Pickard-Dudley, general manager of the membership division of Upstate Niagara Cooperative.

More yogurt means more milk and farmers are ready to meet the demand, Pickard-Dudley said.

"We're obviously excited for this opportunity for farmers," Pickard-Dudley said.

Upstate built its own yogurt plant in West Seneca in 2006 and a year ago purchased a 100-year-old plant in Watertown.

Alpina and PepsiCo have both broken ground on sites in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, though PepsiCo has yet to reach a purchase agreement with the GCEDC (negotiations are, we hear, currently going on at the Albany level) for the 81-acre parcel. 

Regional farmers will be able to adjust capacity to meet all the demand for milk to make yogurt, Pickard-Dudley said.

Whether that milk comes through Upstate or yogurt manufacturers go directly to farmers is unknown at this time, Pickard-Dudley.

"Farmers are always up for a challenge for meeting new demands on supply," Pickard-Dudley said.

Pickard-Dudley was in Batavia at the O-AT-KA offices on Monday to meet with Rep. Kathy Hochul, who discussed with Upstate representatives her bill to create a guest worker program to assist New York's agricultural industry.

September 1, 2009 - 8:00pm

The best-tasting milk and dip in New York State comes from Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc.’s plants in Rochester and West Seneca, respectively. Genesee County milk suppliers participate in the co-op.

Cornell University’s Department of Food Science honored the cooperative’s Upstate Farms Milk and Bison Creamy Dill Dip products at the New York State Fair’s Dairy Day on Aug. 31.

Company representatives were invited to take home the Gold Medallion, accompanied by the Blue Ribbon. Ken Voelker, director of marketing at Upstate Niagara Cooperative pointed out that “Winning the gold reflects our member farmers’ commitment to produce the best milk and dairy products possible. We look forward to continually enhancing the quality of the products that we deliver throughout the U.S.” 

Bison Creamy Dill Dip, manufactured by Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc., is one of the company’s newest dip flavors, joining its popular flavor line-up. All Bison® dips are made with fresh sour cream and include flavors like French Onion, Southwestern Chipotle, Creamy Ranch, Roasted Garlic & Parmesan, and Reduced Fat French Onion.

Cornell University’s Department of Food and Science conducted the tests. Analysis focused on appearance, mouth feel and overall taste. The annual selection is a part of the New York State Quality Improvement and enjoys participation from nearly all commercial dairy producers in New York.   
   
Upstate Niagara Cooperative (formerly Upstate Farms) is owned and operated by a close-knit family of over 390 local dairy-farm families who care deeply about quality and freshness. The cooperative has been supplying a wide variety of fresh, high-quality dairy products under the Upstate Farms, Bison and Intense brands, for more than 40 years.

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