Meister Cheese – Muscoda, WI

Industry: Food Manufacturing RDP Investment: $12.5 million Launched: September 2013

Muscoda, WI – Meister Cheese Company LLC is located in Muscoda (WI), a third-generation owned cheese factory originating in Plain (WI); formerly known as Pleasant View Cheese Company. The company purchased a new cheese factory in Muscoda in 1966, naming it Meister Cheese Company, subsequently moving to the Muscoda Industrial Park in 1976. Meister currently produces a variety of cheeses including Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, and flavored cheeses. Their largest customer is a nationally recognized restaurant chain, dedicated to providing its customers “food with integrity.” Meister provides the national customer the ability to source cheese with special characteristics including use of only BGH-free milk from pasture-raised cows. Meister established the “Animal Friendly Family Farms” (“A Triple F”) program, allowing it to receive premium, high-quality milk produced using ethical and sustainable methods by Wisconsin dairy farms.

The whey ingredients used in the cheese making process was formerly perceived by the industry as a waste product. As stated by the Dairy Council of CA (2004), “In the past 20 years whey protein has gone from being a waste product to a highly valued product…” In 1980 Meister formed Muscoda Protein Products (“MPP”) through a joint venture with another cheese company and the facility was built next to the Meister Cheese plant in order to take advantage of the built-in supply of whey. MPP produces whey protein concentrate (WPC) and lactose with the majority of its whey supply coming from its sister company, Meister. Both Meister and Muscoda utilize a clean wood-burning technology allowing the companies to manufacture high quality products at a low cost to customers.

The plan included approximately $5.7 million of upgrades to the MPP facility and the purchase of nearly $9.8 million in equipment. MPP upgraded its lactose equipment and refrigeration system at the whey plant to increase efficiency and product quality. Cheese production equipment was also purchased and leased back to its sister company Meister Cheese Company LLC (“Meister”). The expansion and equipment upgrades allowed MPP and Meister to increase their production capacity as their customer base grows.

RDP’s Community Investment Program

Through RDP’s Community Investment Program, Rural Development Partners and Muscoda Protein Products/Meister Cheese provided a matching funds grant of $125,000 toward workforce development in the agriculture industry. Programs were designed by Southwest Wisconsin Technical College in Fennimore (WI).

$66,350 – Beginning and Advanced Farm Management Tuition Assistance – Low income and beginning producers received tuition assistance for the Advanced Farm Management, and the Beginning Farm Management Courses for a duration of five years.

$23,350 – Dairy Producer Financial Management Training – Twenty dairy farm operations benefited from this program as it helps increase financial stability through Financial Management Training. Producers also received an opportunity to work individually with instructors to complete a financial analysis. Each producer could use 10 hours of individual instruction time on-farm to complete a balance sheet, year-end financial analysis, and cash flow/budget.

$10,300 – Farm Business Succession Workshops – This workshop helped twenty-five producers on nineteen different family farms. Day 4 of the program provided an opportunity for producers to network with fourteen allied businesses representing lenders, lawyers, investment firms and financial consultants… setting producers up for a success.

$25,000 – Agriculture Career Pathways at Riverdale High School – Southwest Technical College worked with Riverdale High School Agriculture Department to develop Articulation Agreements; a new project for the high school. Articulated credit courses earn the student both high school and technical college credit. Among the courses that Articulation Agreements were created for: Plant Science, Oxyfuel Brazing and Welding-Carbon Steel, and SMAW-Carbon Steel (SMAW – shielded metal arc welding).  In order to meet the requirements of articulated credit courses, Riverdale High School had to upgrade their existing shop supplies and equipment. To receive advanced standing, students must earn a final grade of B or better in the course and be recommended by the instructor to receive an advanced standing certificate, which allows the student to receive credit for the course upon enrollment in the respective program at a technical college.

RDP Impact

112 Full-Time Equivalent Jobs at MPP and Meister facilities.

$116.65 Million in Additional Economic Output for the Region

Share this Project