Governor Cuomo Announces Construction of $16 Million Cheese-Making Facility in Franklin County
New York (STL.News) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that construction has begun on a $16 million expansion at the Agri-Mark plant located in the Franklin County town of Chateaugay. Part of a $30 million plant modernization project that started in 2016, the expansion will help the major dairy cooperative retain more than 100 full-time employees and support an additional 514 agricultural jobs in the region.
“Dairy is a major part of New York State’s agricultural industry, and this innovative modernization project at Agri-Mark will help to further strengthen this critical sector of our economy,” Governor Cuomo said. “Agri-Mark’s continued success and expansion will support jobs, spur economic development, and help the North Country thrive.”
The innovative expansion and restoration of Agri-Mark’s Franklin County facility involves rebuilding the cooperative’s 110,641 square-foot manufacturing center, reengineering the layout of the facility, and purchasing new machinery and other equipment. This phase of the project dedicates $16 million to building a new state-of-the-art cheese production room to improve plant efficiency and further Agri-Mark’s high-quality standards.
View a rendering of the new facility.
The plant will continue to operate during its modernization effort. Empire State Development is supporting the dairy cooperative’s expansion project with $6 million in funding, including $4 million in Economic Transformation Program funds, to retain 106 full-time jobs and modernize its Chateaugay operations.
The announcement was made today in the middle of National Dairy Month at the Agri-Mark facility in Chateaugay, with state Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball joining Agri-Mark CEO Bill Beaton along with other state and local elected officials for a groundbreaking celebration. New York State has nearly 3,600 dairy producers that yield more than 15 billion pounds of milk annually, making New York the nation’s fourth largest dairy state.
The dairy industry is New York’s largest agricultural sector, contributing significantly to the state economy by generating nearly half of its total agricultural receipts. The industry also provides some of the highest economic multipliers in the state.
Agri-Mark CEO Bill Beaton said, “We are excited to move into this second phase of our modernization project and to see the plant addition come to fruition. Our vision is to revitalize the Chateaugay facility to better support the growing needs of our local farmers, meet the appetites of our customers and consumers, and provide an improved facility for our employees. This investment would not be possible without the help of our partners, whom we thank for their support.”
Bill Harrigan, Treasurer of Agri-Mark’s Board of Directors and Chateaugay dairy farmer, said, “Generations of North Country farm families have relied on this plant to provide a stable home and a profitable market for their milk. This is a significant modernization project that will ensure this plant is equipped to support future generations of local farm families, and to continue our legacy of being an economic engine in the region by supporting jobs and providing benefits to our local community. We want to thank the many people and organizations that have worked with us and helped us secure the grant funding that makes this project possible.”
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Today’s groundbreaking is exciting news for both Agri-Mark and the hundreds of New York dairy farmers who supply milk to their world-class cheese manufacturing facility, and it couldn’t come at a better time during Dairy Month when we celebrate New York’s dairy industry. Agri-Mark’s modernization efforts will solidify their future in the North Country and ensure that they can continue to produce some of New York’s finest dairy products, and that New York State remains a leader in the dairy industry nationwide.”
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President and CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “New York’s farmers are a cornerstone of our economy – especially in the North Country – and this public-private partnership with Agri-Mark will encourage industry strength and sustainability. Modernizing the Chateaugay plant will also increase the production of award-winning cheese made from New York State milk, supporting jobs, and generating an economic boost to dairy producers statewide.”
Senator Dan Stec said, “Agriculture is the cornerstone of our upstate economy, especially here in the North Country. This public-private partnership means more production and improved efficiency, which is not only important for the continued success of Agri-Mark and our local dairy farmers, but really great news for the loyal customers who love the McCadam brand.”
Assemblyman Billy Jones said, “Since 1916, Agri-Mark Inc. has played a critical role in the North Country’s agricultural sector and supported generations of dairy farmers. Having served as mayor of Chateaugay and on the Franklin County legislature as well as a former dairy farmer, Agri-Mark has been near and dear to my heart as we worked to enhance upstate’s agricultural industry and provide access to high-quality dairy products in our communities. I’m thrilled that Agri-Mark is moving full steam ahead on the next phase in the modernization of its Chateaugay plant and will continue doing everything I can to support important projects like this that invest in our economy and create good-paying jobs.”
Agri-Mark is a dairy farmer cooperative that dates back to 1913. The co-op bought the Chateaugay cheese manufacturing facility in 2003.and since then has invested millions of dollars into the facility to expand production of its award-winning McCadam brand cheese as well as some types of Cabot cheese, known for being the “World’s Best Cheddar.” The plant is the second oldest cheese company in the United States and its cheeses are New York State grown and certified.
In 2020, Agri-Mark marketed milk for more than 750 Northeast dairy farms, which amounted to more than 378 million gallons of farm fresh milk. Agri-Mark’s membership is made up of dairy farms in communities across six states, including 400 farms in New York State. In addition, 100 percent of Agri-Mark’s profits are distributed to the dairy farms it serves.