Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the sale of the former Dairy Farmers of America plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in Batavia to dairy processor HP Hood LLC. The plant, which was originally constructed by Muller-Quaker to process yogurt, was later purchased by DFA, a national, farmer-owned dairy cooperative in 2016. HP Hood will invest more than $200 million over several years and create 230 new jobs in New York State over five years.
"This major commitment from one of the nation's most prominent dairy companies will inject new life into the community, creating hundreds of jobs and spurring new investment in the Finger Lakes," Governor Cuomo said. "Agriculture and food processing is a key pillar of economic growth in our Upstate Revitalization Initiative plan, and this latest investment shows that our multi-pronged strategy for growing the region’s economy is working."
Rick Smith, President and CEO of DFA, said, “We originally made a strategic decision to purchase this plant, as it’s in an important milk shed for the industry and this area. Our primary goal was to ensure that this facility remained active in dairy for the long term. We explored opportunities with more than a dozen dairy companies and think HP Hood is a great fit to serve the local milk shed and community.”
John A. Kaneb, President and CEO of HP Hood LLC, said, “We are fortunate that our need for more capacity coincided with an opportunity to expand our capabilities in the great State of New York. We have been welcomed by a resourceful and business savvy team at the Genesee County Economic Development Center and we look forward to becoming a supportive member of the local community and an employer of choice.”
Hood will repurpose the 363,000-square-foot, idle state-of-the-art processing facility to produce extended-shelf-life beverages. The company will also construct a 100,000 square foot refrigerated warehouse. Hood plans to commence construction this summer and begin operating by the second quarter of 2019. Construction will create 524 jobs with a payroll of nearly $26 million. Hood has four other manufacturing locations in the State of New York which manufacture fluid and cultured dairy products such as milk, cream, cottage cheese and sour cream.
Members of the community seeking to inquire about employment opportunities are encouraged to call 1-800-428-6329.
To support the project, Empire State Development will provide up to $5 million in performance-based Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits and a $2 million capital grant from the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The Genesee County Economic Development Center board will also amend the current PILOT, which will provide Hood with more than $7 million in tax abatements over 10 years, with an anticipated total economic benefit to the region of more than $330 million.
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “HP Hood's new plant in Batavia will produce dairy products, providing a boost to local farmers and supporting the dairy industry’s continued growth and success.”
NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The purchase of this facility by HP Hood is great news for New York’s dairy community, who are experiencing challenging times. This expansion will not only mean our State’s dairy farmers will have another market for their milk but also that an idle facility will now be back online, creating innovative dairy products for consumers worldwide and supporting the local economy through investment and new jobs.”
Genesee County Economic Development Center Board President Paul Battaglia said, “This is tremendous news for Genesee County and the region and we are very grateful to HP Hood for this significant investment at the Ag-Park. This project is the continued collaboration among our economic partners, including Empire State Development and the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. Everyone has worked hard to help get this facility back online and create employment opportunities for our residents.”
HP Hood, headquartered in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, is a 170-year-old company that does more than $2 billion in business annually. It has four New York State production facilities in Vernon, Oneida, Arkport and Lafargeville.
New York is one of the major dairy producers in the nation with nearly 5,000 dairy farms and more than 600,000 dairy cows. New York’s dairy industry is also the State’s largest agricultural sector. The majority of farms are family-run operations, supporting the framework of the State’s agricultural economy. The dairy community brought in $2.5 billion in sales and the dairy industry hired almost 20,000 people in New York in 2015.
Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer said, "The dairy industry is a major driver of our local economy, and now Genesee County will be home to one of the largest branded dairy operators creating hundreds of new jobs. I commend HP Hood for transforming an idle facility into a $200 million investment."
Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle said, “New York continues to experience unprecedented growth in our agriculture and dairy processing industries thank to the continued leadership and commitment of Governor Cuomo. The new HP Hood facility is yet another exciting investment in our community that will further bolster our regions job growth, provide great paying jobs to our residents, and support our agricultural base.”
Assemblyman Steve Hawley said, “New York’s agriculture and farming industry is one of the most prestigious in the nation, and this tremendous investment by one of the country’s most highly-regarded dairy companies proves we are creating a world-class dairy and farming economy right here in Genesee County. Economic development is paramount to our state’s success, and this is an important step toward bolstering our regional economy and creating hundreds of local jobs. I would like to thank all the state and local leaders who have made this possible and I look forward to continued success growing Western New York."
Founded in 1846, today Hood is one of the largest branded dairy operators in the United States. Hood’s portfolio of national and super-regional brands and franchise products includes Hood, Crowley Foods, Simply Smart Milk, Heluva Good!, LACTAID®, BAILEYS® Coffee Creamers, HERSHEY®’S Milk and Milkshakes and Blue Diamond Almond Breeze®.