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DFA forms OmniTech, pairs with Wis. dairy

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Dairy Farmers of America announced March 31 the formation of a new company called OmniTech LLC, a pathogen-testing service. The company is based in DFA's Springfield Technical Center, but its services will extend to customers outside the membership of DFA.

OmniTech will provide pathogen screening for a variety of raw ingredients and products, according to a news release from DFA. It is an extension of the research, product development and quality control aspects of DFA's current pathogen testing laboratory that serves only DFA manufacturing facilities.

"As concerns for food safety increase, we see a growing need for quality pathogen testing services such as we offer. We've been performing these tests for years for our own facilities. OmniTech makes it possible to extend this expertise to a whole new customer base," Craig Schroeder, DFA vice president of research, product development and quality control, said in the release.

Dr. Larry Steenson is the director of laboratory services for OmniTech. The laboratory for OmniTech is 5,600 square feet and is located near the former Mid-America Dairymen headquarters in Springfield.

OmniTech is also certified by the state of Missouri for microbiological analysis of public water supplies.

DFA also announced that it would form a joint venture with Madison Dairy of Madison, Wis., to produce and market butter and related products at DFA's Winnsboro, Texas plant.

DFA's corporate board approved the agreement during a March 24 meeting. The operational agreements are expected to be completed May 1, according to a release from DFA.

Dr. Lonnie Spurgeon, chief operating officer for DFA's Dairy Foods Group, said the Texas plant is ideally located to serve the joint venture's plans to increase butter sales.

"This area is producing increasing quantities of cream which are available to convert into high-quality butter. This new business relationship will allow DFA and Madison Dairies to expand services to many valued customers," Spurgeon said in the release.

The agreement will allow DFA to gain some efficiencies in plant operations as well as in transportation of ingredients, Spurgeon said.

DFA is a dairy marketing cooperative that markets milk for 22,000 dairy farmer members in 45 states. DFA supplies milk to bottling and manufacturing plants that produce dairy products and food component for consumers in the United States and around the world.

DFA is comprised of four regional dairies, which consolidated in 1998. Mid-America Dairymen, based in Springfield, was the largest of the four merged cooperatives.

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