Auburn milk plant hopes to capitalize on export market

Dec 6, 2013

A new dairy processing facility under construction in Cayuga County plans to make most of its money on the export market and its owners are hoping trade rule changes don’t hinder that.

An $80 million dairy facility going up in Auburn plans to sell powdered milk to countries in Asia and North Africa, but current trade rules with some of those countries could make exporting their products difficult.

Cayuga Milk Ingredients, LLC. is a partnership between 21 dairy farmers in the county. Kevin Ellis, the project's CEO, said they thought about regular milk, yogurt and cheese first.

"And then we got into powdered milks and more or less the protein market," he said. "We saw an incredible demand for protein worldwide. And as the wealth of the nations were increasing, we saw it has a great opportunity."

An $80 million milk processing facility is under construction in Auburn.
Credit Ryan Delaney / WRVO

As the U.S. negotiates new trade agreements with some of those nations, the 21 farmers behind the project are asking to be allowed to export more milk.

"The farmers who have invested in this plant have invested heavily and we feel very confident that this will be a success," Ellis said.

Sen. Charles Schumer has stepped in to say he’ll help. He says countries like New Zealand allow unfair monopolies on dairy.

"They don't play fair or play by the rules," he said Thursday while on a visit to the site.

The Democratic senator has asked the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce to do what they can to decrease the barriers.

The milk processing facility in expected to be operational next year.