By SHELLY STRAUTZ-SPRINGBORN
LANSING, Mich. — Three Michigan companies will receive a total of $325,000 in Food and Agriculture Investment Program grants from the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Herbruck Poultry Ranch, Inc. in Ionia County was awarded $100,000, while Continental Dairy Facilities LLC and fairlife LLC, two separate companies that are co-located on the same processing site in Coopersville, were granted $225,000.
Harry Herbruck, executive vice president of operations at Herbruck Poultry Ranch, said the grant will be used toward road enhancements for a facility located on Rector Road near Haynor Road in Easton Township. The project will be in partnership with the Ionia County Road Commission.
“It’s basically two miles of road improvements,” he said. “With trucks and people, putting traffic on gravel roads would not allow us to be a good neighbor, and it would not allow us to do our business with getting feed and animals to and from the facility. There will be more traffic on the roads from people who are working at the facility, as well as large trucks bringing in feed and transporting chickens. Typically when we apply forgrants, we try to aim them at community infrastructure. “We need the roads, and everybody gets benefit from it,” Herbruck added.
The company, which began in the late 1920s and remains family-owned and managed, has several major customers that are moving toward requiring certified cage-free egg production by 2025. To meet this objective, Herbruck’s will convert the facility to cage-free housing by 2024. The project is expected to create 50 new jobs over three years.
Herbruck said the farm was purchased about two years ago. It includes one barn that will be enhanced, and more will be added. The facility will be used to raise cage-free pullets from one day old up to 16 weeks, at which time they will be moved to one of the company’s layer facilities.
Continental Dairy Facilities and fairlife will use their performance-based grant from MDARD to help expand operations to include new products and production lines. fairlife aims to increase capacity by adding a third packaging line to produce fairlife milk, Core Power and Yup. The additional line is expected to result in $120 million in private investment and 42 new jobs.
Continental Dairy is expanding operations to produce butter and buttermilk powder from cream, which is expected to result in $53 million in private investment and 10 new jobs. In total, the companies will invest $173 million and create 52 new jobs to support the Coopersville Dairy Park Campus.
The expansion and development of Continental and fairlife will require additional wastewater treatment capacity, which is estimated to cost approximately $3.7 million. The grant will be used for the wastewater project to support the expansions from both companies. “Continental Dairy is very pleased to partner with the state of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to identify investment opportunities that recognize growth potential in the state’s dairy industry, while working to protect the environment that we all share and cherish,” said Steven Cooper, chief operating officer and general manager of Continental Dairy.
“This is our first round of Food and Agriculture Investment Program grants, and I couldn’t be more excited about the impact they could have on Michigan agriculture and jobs,” said MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams. “Through these grants, and with the investment of other partners and stakeholders, we can help ensure Michigan’s food and agriculture businesses remain national leaders in food production and consumer trends.
“This is a great example of how a public-private partnership can work to create jobs and improve communities.” Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development Chair Dru Montri said the office is glad to support these projects. “The investment in infrastructure improvements will increase capacity and contribute to the growth of Michigan’s food and agriculture industry,” Montri said.