Prairie Farms Dairy and Swiss Valley Farms today announced the two companies have entered into a merger agreement. Both companies are farmer-owned dairy cooperatives.

Prairie Farms is the nation’s No. 4 dairy co-op

Dairy Foods magazine ranked Prairie Farms No. 4 on the list of co-ops (No. 11 overall) with revenues of $2.8 billion in 2015. Swiss Valley Farms is No. 20 on the list of largest dairy cooperatives and No. 60 overall. It reported 2015 revenues of $373 million. The combined company will operate under the name Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc. The terms of the merger agreement must be approved by cooperative members from both companies. If approved, the deal is expected to close mid-2017.

Prairie Farms picks up a cheese and dairy powders processor

The merger will give Prairie Farms a cheese and dairy powders business, and ready-made access to export markets. Prairie Farms has 35 manufacturing plants making fluid milk products, cultured dairy foods, ice cream and nondairy beverages.

Under the terms of the agreement, Prairie Farms, based in Carlinville, Ill., will merge the assets of Swiss Valley Farms (Davenport, Iowa) into Prairie Farms Dairy Inc. Assets include five manufacturing plants that produce cheese and whey powder located in Luana, Iowa; Shullsburg and Mindoro in Wisconsin; Rochester and Faribault in Minnesota.

Swiss Valley Farms CEO Chris Hoeger will continue to oversee the operation of the plants.

Swiss Valley Farms was the Exporter of the Year

Swiss Valley Farms is the 2016 recipient of the Tom Camerlo Exporter of the Year award presented by Dairy Foods and the US Dairy Council. Dairy Foods visited Swiss Valley Farms in 2012. See "Swiss Valley Farms brings a sharp focus to cheesemaking" and "Swiss Valley Farms' plant runs 24/7.”