Davisco Foods International and Land O'Lakes today announced the initiation of a feasibility study to consider the formation of an operating partnership which would lead to the construction of a world-class cheese manufacturing facility.

"Davisco and Land O'Lakes believe that South Dakota and the surrounding region have the potential to achieve and sustain a competitive position in the dairy marketplace ... in terms of both production and processing," Davisco President Mark Davis said today. "The development of a large-scale, world-class cheese manufacturing facility in the region would clearly enhance that potential."

"The project, and this partnership, has the potential to significantly enhance the region's dairy infrastructure and contribute to the long-term success of area producers," Land O'Lakes Dairy Foods Industrial Group Chief Operating Officer Jack Prince said. "We are at a point where critical mass and economies of scale are vital to dairy industry success, the proposed partnership and plant project address those issues."

A critical element in the feasibility study will be determining the willingness of South Dakota's policy makers to affirm their commitment to the economic health of the state's, and region's, dairy producers and dairy industry.

"This project would represent a significant long-term commitment for both Davisco and Land O'Lakes," Davis said. "Before going forward, it will be important to ensure South Dakota's leadership at every level is equally committed to revitalizing the region's core dairy industry."

Davis and Prince added that Davisco and Land O'Lakes make logical partners in the venture because of their long-standing commitment to the success of the region's dairy industry, as well as compatible corporate cultures that focus on operational excellence, least-cost production, effective marketing and the creation of value for customers.

Davisco operates a whey manufacturing facility in Lake Norden, S.D. and Land O'Lakes operates a cheese manufacturing plant in Volga, S.D.

Davisco Foods International (http://www.daviscofoods.com) is a privately held, family-owned, dairy business headquartered in Le Sueur, Minn. Operating five dairy processing plants (cheese, whey and other dairy-based food ingredients) in South Dakota, Minnesota and Idaho, Davisco produces more than 600,000 pounds of cheese daily and is one of the largest suppliers of cheese to Kraft Foods. Davisco is a company committed to technical advancement, customer service, and superior quality. Davisco pioneered whey protein isolate research and continues to be the industry leader in technology and productions. Davisco prides itself in being a family-run business that supports its local communities by providing jobs and buying milk from local farmers.

Land O'Lakes (http://www.landolakesinc.com) is a national, farmer-owned food and agricultural cooperative, with sales approaching $6 billion. Land O'Lakes does business in all fifty states and more than fifty countries. It is a leading marketer of a full line of dairy-based consumer, foodservice and food ingredient products across the U.S.; services its international customers with a variety of food and animal feed ingredients; and provides farmers and local cooperatives with an extensive line of agricultural supplies (feed, seed, crop nutrient and crop protection products) and services.