Dairy Farmers of America’s (DFA) state-of-the-art ingredients plant in Garden City, Kan., recently received the Sustainable Plant of the Year Award from Food Engineering magazine. The award was presented at Food Engineering’s Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo in Bonita Springs, Fla., and honors a newly constructed food facility focused on reducing, reusing and recycling.
“This plant helps DFA meet the needs of domestic and global customers, while also bringing value to our farmer-owners,” says Michael Lichte, vice president and general manager, dairy powder ingredients at DFA. “Being recognized for Sustainable Plant of the Year is a tremendous honor. As a farmer-owned Cooperative, we’re committed to safely and responsibly producing high-quality, nutritious milk. This plant and its sustainability measures are absolutely a testament to that commitment.”
The plant, which is a partnership between DFA and 12 of its member farms in Southwest Kansas, fulfills a key sustainable strategy by providing a local home for local farmers’ milk, which was previously being transported to other areas of the country. Now, the moment a tanker truck enters the plant, it takes about 68 minutes to off-load the milk, clean the truck and test the milk. In the past, a tanker might have been on the road for a couple of days — now the same tanker returns to the dairy in the same day. This drastically reduces hauling and trucking costs, as well as conserves energy and resources.
In addition to transportation from farm to the plant, the facility was built with a focus on conserving natural resources as much as possible, including the plant’s wastewater treatment facility. With this process, all the water utilized at the plant is recycled and can be used by the city as a source of non-potable water.
DFA Garden City produces whole and skim milk powder, nonfat dry milk powder and cream, and receives approximately 4 million pounds of milk a day from regional farms. The first load of milk was delivered in late September 2017.
The plant was designed and built by Shambaugh & Son L.P., utilizing the company’s vertically integrated project delivery model. Shambaugh self-performed wet process/drying/packing, mechanical, electrical, refrigeration, fire protection, process controls, wastewater treatment and building automation. Tetra Pak and McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. also served as sub-contractors on the development of the plant.