WestFarm Foods today announced it would expand in Idaho's Magic Valley.

The company plans to construct a technologically advanced, 70,500 square foot dehydration facility along side its existing milk condensing plant in Jerome, Idaho. The new facility will have the initial capacity to process 3.3 million pounds of locally produced milk per day into non-fat dry milk. The plant is designed to be further expanded to process six million pounds per day into cheese, whey or non-fat dry milk, depending on the markets and milk availability.

"Building this new facility is a win-win for both the Magic Valley and WestFarm Foods," said John Mueller, President and CEO of WestFarm Foods. "The communities and dairy farmers in the region get a strong and efficient processor of local milk and we get a world-class facility in a fast-growing region with a favorable business climate." Mueller added, "We are grateful for the cooperation and encouragement from the community and from the state of Idaho to expand our plant here."

The new plant's daily capacity of 3.3 million pounds is roughly equivalent to 390,000 gallons of milk per day. Raw milk for the new facility will be supplied from dairy farms in the Magic Valley and surrounding areas.

The new facility at Jerome will add 23 permanent jobs and build on the successful team-based work system currently in place at the existing plant. Once the new facility is completed, the two plants will become fully integrated and managed effectively as one, large-scale operation.

According to Mueller, "The expansion at Jerome builds on WestFarm Foods' strategy by building a high-volume, low cost milk processing facility. The combined new Jerome facility will play an increasingly vital role in this economically important region by supplying quality Magic Valley dairy products to growing national and international markets," Mueller said.

WestFarm Foods operates three dairy processing facilities in Idaho. Besides Jerome, the company converts milk into various dairy products at plants in Boise and Caldwell. In addition, WestFarm Foods produces a full line of dairy products at facilities in the western US, including plants in Washington, Oregon and California.

WestFarm Foods is the manufacturing and marketing subsidiary of Northwest Dairy Association and producer of the Darigold® brand. Founded in 1918 as the United Dairymen's Association, the cooperative has grown to include dairy farm families in Washington, Oregon, Northern California and Idaho. The company is one of the largest dairy processors in the U.S. with annual sales in fiscal year 2001 of $1.1 billion. The Seattle-based company currently operates eleven plants serving 749 dairy farm families. For more information, visit www.westfarm.com.