deans

TANNER MONDOK | Herald file

Trailers are lined up outside Dean Foods milk processing plant in South Pymatuning Township.

KANSAS CITY – Dairy Farmers of America is buying a substantial portion of Dean Foods, including its South Pymatuning milk processing plant, for $425 million.

Based in Kansas City, Kan., DFA operates a plant in New Wilmington that produces cheese. The company’s West Middlesex plant uses some of that cheese to be shredded.

Under the deal, DFA will buy 44 of Dean Foods processing centers, including Dean’s South Pymatuning plant, said Kim O’Brien, a DFA spokeswoman.

In November, Dallas-based Dean Foods declared bankruptcy, so the deal is subject to approval by the bankruptcy court and regulatory permission from the U.S. Department of Justice. Dean is America’s largest milk processor.

DFA is a milk marketing cooperative and dairy foods processor owned by more than 14,000 dairy farmers nationwide.

Canon Diary Farm in Shenango Township is among those farms, said Marie Canon, whose family owns and operates the farm. Canon said DFA’s deal doesn’t result in overlapping operations in the area.

“DFA’s New Wilmington plant just makes cheese, and the West Middlesex plant shreds cheese,’’ she said. “And the South Pymatuning plant processes milk.’’

Canon Dairy Farm sends all of its milk to DFA’s New Wilmington cheese plant, she said.

“We’re a drop in the bucket for the New Wilmington plant,’’ Canon said of the amount of milk their farm sends to the plant. “They take milk from all over – as far as Michigan.’’

A Dean’s spokesman didn’t immediately return a message Tuesday.

In the second quarter of last year, the latest figure available, Dean Dairy was listed as Mercer County’s 26th largest employer, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry.

NOTE: This story has been edited to remove an incorrect reference to employment figures.