The Valley Queen Board of Directors voted unanimously last week to approve a $195 million expansion at its location in Milbank. The three-year expansion will increase the company’s processing capacity by 50 percent and will be the largest in the company’s 93-year history.
Set for groundbreaking in late May 2022, the expansion will be fully operational by January 2025. It includes plans to increase cheese production capacity by 125 million pounds and create an additional daily milk processing capacity of three million pounds.
A projected 140 employees will be hired over three years to fully staff the expanded operation. In addition to a growing workforce, the project will also support considerable growth in dairy along the I-29 corridor. An estimated 30,000 cows will be added to the region over the next three years across existing herds and some yet to be established.
“It’s a good time to be in the South Dakota dairy industry,” said CEO Doug Wilke. “We’re excited to be positioning ourselves for many more years of product innovation with customers and even stronger relationships with key dairy producers here in the I-29 corridor.”
In addition to expanded capacity in Milbank, Valley Queen will establish a distribution center in western Wisconsin to better serve customers. This distribution center will allow for more efficiency and flexibility in transportation and logistics.
“We see an opportunity to supply more high-quality cheese to a growing industry and our dairy producers are looking for the opportunity to expand. Our team has demonstrated time and again their ability to lead change and execute on our strategic plan,” Wilke said. “Continuous growth and improvement are at the core of our company’s successful history, and we’re proud to continue those traditions with this next phase of growth.”