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Thief River Falls dairy plant plans to shut down

THIEF RIVER FALLS, MN — A Thief River Falls dairy plant plans to shut down.

More than 100 people will lose their jobs.

But the economic impact may be felt harder outside the plant.

Farmers already struggling to make a buck are worried the fall of a dairy plant could be bad for business.

"As the old cliché, one more nail in the coffin,” said Mike Hanson.

Mike Hanson's farm sends thousands of gallons of milk every other day to Dean Foods.

But he says when the plant in Thief River closes this fall -- he'll be forced to ship milk more than a hundred miles south to Perham.

"We have low milk prices. And the costs are high compared to what our net returns are. It's kind of a, it was bad before. Now with this will make it worse."

He estimates it could cut into their profits by as much as 5 percent.

If area farmers don't send the milk to Perham, Hanson says they could ship to Bismarck or Minneapolis.

The ripple effect will be felt by dozens of farmers all across Northeast North Dakota and Minnesota.

Affecting as many as 25 of the remaining dairy farmers in the Northern Valley.

"It's kind of making me sad to see this happen. I hope the people in powers maybe make something work here. Maybe keep this plant open some how some way."

Farmers pray plant managers will reconsider-- they're worried this decision could close small family farms on the edge.

"If they're on the line of should we keep continuing to dairy farm or not? This could be a bad deal."

Hanson says the plant could close as early as September first.

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