Texas-based dairy giant Dean Foods has announced layoffs at its Meadow Gold Dairy plant in Greeley.
The job cuts will begin on March 13 and affect 82 workers, including cheese makers, drivers and packagers. The company plans to end production at the plant around April 17.
The announcement came on the heels of an unexpected, temporary shutdown of the plant on Feb. 11. An inspection by the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment found various sanitation compliance issues, causing the plant to close.
Inspectors noted "floor surfaces in need of improvement and damaged floor tiles; ceiling areas in need of repair; and leaking water pipes," according to Anne Divjak, Dean Food's vice president of government relations and external communications.
"While the inspection concerningly identified areas and conditions within the plant in need of improvement, at no time was food safety or product quality ever noted as a concern," Divjak said in an email. "All products processed and distributed at our Greeley facility are safe to consume."
The plant was re-inspected and brought back online on Feb. 14. But, it still needs expensive water treatment upgrades at a time in which money is very tight for Dean Foods.
So tight, in fact, that the dairy company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last November and has made a deal with Dairy Farmers of America, a massive co-op representing more than 14,000 farmers across America. If a bankruptcy court allows it, the agreement would allow DFA to acquire 44 of Dean's plants, including both Colorado Meadow Gold Dairy plants in Greeley and Englewood.
In an emailed statement, Monica Massey, executive vice president and chief of staff at DFA, said the company would "evaluate the (Greeley) facility for opportunities to repurpose operations."
A court hearing on this agreement is set for March 12.