A new milk processing plant in northeastern Indiana recently announced by Wal-Mart could cut into the amount of milk that dairy farmers currently have to ship out of state.
Wal-Mart announced plans for the new plant near Fort Wayne International Airport in March, and it's scheduled to start processing milk in summer 2017. Wal-Mart hasn't said how much milk it plans to process there, The (Fort Wayne) News-Sentinel reported.
The state adopted a dairy strategy last year, with a consultant's recommendations including attracting another milk processor that could use 1 million to 2 million pounds of the 4 million pounds of milk shipped to processing facilities outside Indiana daily. Ted McKinney, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, said the new plant will "easily" meet that threshold.
Milk from the plant will be distributed to stores in Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and northern Kentucky. McKinney said Wal-Mart plans to get milk from suppliers in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
A large majority of Indiana's dairy cows and milk production are in the northern third of the state, according to the State Department of Agriculture. Doug Leman, director of the Indiana Dairy Producers, said the reason lies in the weather.
"Cows don't like heat and humidity," Leman said.
McKinney said there are other reasons for so much of the dairy industry being in northern Indiana, including easy access to water for cows to drink and cleaning the cows, their shelter and milking equipment. He said people who settled the area also hailed from places with strong dairy farming traditions.