The Star Valley Cheese factory in Thayne, Wyo., closed since 2005, may be re-opening its doors again later this year. Idaho dairyman Gaylen Clayson is in the process of buying the facility.
“We’re looking to buy the factory, and we are very interested in purchasing it and starting it up again,” Clayson said. “Our goal right now is just to get the plant going again and make mozzarella cheese … and try to bring local milk into the plant to help the local dairymen.
“We’re going to try and work with the farmers in the valley to buy their milk … not so much because we need the milk, but we’d sure like to bring them along just to keep the milk here in Star Valley and help keep the dairy industry alive in Wyoming.”
Clayson, a former Bedford dairy farmer, is the owner of Cedar Arch Dairies in the Idaho communities of Blackfoot, Firth and Penagre. He said the Thayne plant will initially produce mozzarella cheese.
Clayson initially plans to use milk from his Cedar Farm operations to produce cheese at the factory until Star Valley producers can be secured. Milk will be trucked in, and whey — the watery part of milk that is separated from the curds during cheese production — will be trucked back to Idaho to be used as feedstock for cattle.
The plant has the capacity to produce up to 1.5 million pounds of cheese per month. Star Valley cheese was sold in markets across the United States and as far away as Hawaii, though most of the cheese produced during the last few years of production went to California.