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Agriculture

Los Banos milk plant shutting down, 63 workers to lose jobs

Visalia-based California Dairies Inc., the largest milk cooperative in the state, is shutting down its Los Banos factory, citing a decline in milk volume.

The plant that first started out as San Joaquin Valley Dairymen has been in operation since 1925. The shutdown will displace 63 workers and take about 60 days to ramp down production.

“The Los Banos plant has been a valued facility with a long history that has served California Dairies and its members well. Unfortunately, the declining volume of milk in California is affecting the entire dairy industry, and CDI is not immune,” said chief executive officer Andrei Mikhalevsky. “These reduced milk volumes, combined with the high cost of operating our Los Banos facility, are the sole drivers behind the decision. This decision is in no way a reflection on the hard work of our talented employees in Los Banos or the high-quality products they have produced.”

California Dairies Inc. used the Los Banos plant to make cream cheese and Neufchâtel, a soft, slightly crumbly, mold-ripened cheese. The cooperative’s five other plants will not be affected, Mikhalevsky said.

The plant was easy to spot as you drive through Los Banos on Highway 152.

As the state’s largest milk producer, California Dairies pumps out 43 percent of the state’s milk supply. Its dairy products, including Challenge and Danish Creamery butter, are sold in all 50 United States and more than 50 countries.

Robert Rodriguez: 559-441-6327, @FresnoBeeBob

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