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Wisconsin Business Briefs: Three eastern Wisconsin co-ops plan on merging

Wisconsin could soon have the nation's third-largest dairy cooperative. Directors of three co-ops have voted to merge - and their members will decide by mid-December whether to go along.

If they do, Family Dairies USA, the Manitowoc Milk Producers, Milwaukee Cooperative Milk Producers would combine to form the Farm-First Cooperative in January. Officials say all three co-ops are in sound shape financially - and combining them would create new efficiencies and improve the members' benefits.

The new group would have 5,400 dairy farms producing around 13-billion pounds of milk in Wisconsin and a half-dozen other Midwest states. Only the California Dairies and the Dairy Farmers of America would be larger. And the new co-op would be the largest in the Midwest, just ahead of Land O'Lakes.

The Farm-First Co-op would be headquartered in Madison, where Family Dairies USA is now run. That group began in 1971 as the Farmers' Union Milk Marketing Co-Op. The Milwaukee group was originally formed in 1916, and the Manitowoc Milk Producers started operating in 1933.


A new pipeline is being proposed that would send North Dakota crude oil to Superior. Enbridge Energy is seeking government approvals for a line that would stretch over 500 miles, from the Beaver Lodge area near Tioga, North Dakota to the company's Superior oil terminal. Enbridge official Bob Steede tells a Fargo North Dakota newspaper that the pipeline would expand its exporting capacity, and increase market opportunities. If approved, the line could start operating as soon as 2015.


The Manitowoc Company saw its quarterly profits go down by six-point-three percent in the last quarter. The firm said its construction crane sales grew in the U.S., but the gains were off-set by lower demands in Europe and Asia. Manitowoc reports a net income of about $22-million dollars from July through September. That's down by one-and-a-half million dollars from the same period a year ago. Earnings fell by a penny a share, to 17-cents. Total sales rose two-point-two percent to about $956-million. The Manitowoc Company makes cranes and food service equipment. CEO Glen Tellock said his firm had several notable positives in its last quarter despite quote, "lingering uncertainty and continued pressure in the macro-economic environment." Total crane sales grew almost five-percent from the third quarter of last year.