It goes without saying that the company that makes the world’s best naturally aged cheddar would have undergone some aging of its own.
Early in the 20th century the cost of farming was low. Most farmers produced far more milk than they could market.
So in 1919 Cabot, VT, farmers joined forces to turn their excess milk into butter and market it throughout New England. Ninety-four farmers all jumped on board—at the cost of $5 per cow, plus a cord of wood to fuel the boiler. The intrepid 94 purchased the village creamery (built in 1893) and began producing butter under the Rosedale brand name.
Over the next two decades, as the nation’s population flocked to urban areas, Cabot’s farmer-owners thrived by shipping their milk and butter south. While the national economy shifted away from agriculture, the Vermont economy was still largely based on dairy farming. In fact, in 1930, Vermont cows outnumbered Vermont people 421,000 to 359,000. It was at this time that the company hired its first cheese maker
and cheddar cheese entered the product line.
1940: 93% of all farms were electrified.*
1952: First bulk tank was installed in Vermont.
By 1960, Cabot’s membership reached 600 farm families, though the total number of operating farms around the nation was already in rapid decline. That trend continued into the 1980s when the total number of farms in Vermont sank below 2,000, less than one fifth of what it had been just a few decades earlier. By this time, the co-op was marketing its high-quality cheeses and butter under the Cabot name.
1964: 9,000 farms in Vermont with an average of 273 acres per farm. Farms account for only 43% of the states total land area.*
1967: 6,000 farms in the state using 43% of the total land area. 198,000 dairy cows.*
1985: Approximately 3,000 Vermont dairy farms still in operation.*
1986: The Federal Whole Herd Buyout Program began. 197 Vermont dairy farms sell out.*
1989: Cabot took first place in the cheddar category at the U.S Championship Cheese Contest held in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
1992 turned out to be a really big year for us. Cabot’s farmer-owners merged with the 1,800 farm families of Agri-Mark, a southern New England co-op dating back to 1918. Together, the combined companies boasted more than 2,000 farms (now down to 1,000 due to the loss of farms throughout the region), four processing plants, and a large product line.
1994: Agri-Mark opened its Middlebury, Vermont, plant, which it purchased from Kraft in 1993. Agri-Mark closed it’s Troy, Vermont, plant as operations begin at Middlebury.
Right around this time, Cabot started an impressive run in awards competitions, winning every major award for taste over the next number of years.
1996: 155,000 dairy cows in Vermont producing 2.6 billion pounds of milk on 1,974 farms.*
2000: Agri-Mark builds a $20 million state-of-the art whey protein processing plant in Middlebury, VT; the only one of its kind in the country.
A further merger! Agri-Mark merged with the Chateaugay Cooperative in Chateaugay, N.Y., in 2003. That same year, Agri-Mark bought a plant from Valio of Finland and acquired the McCadam brand.
2006: Agri-Mark and the Allied Federation of Cooperatives joined businesses, adding new members in New York state to help supply the Chateaugay plant.
This is the kind of stuff that excites us! In 2009, larger cheddar vats were installed in Middlebury.
2010: In this case, bigger is definitely better: a new 10,400 square foot whey warehouse was built in Middlebury, Vermont to accomodate increased sales.
Today, Cabot’s future is bright. Our company blends state-of-the-art facilities and a savvy entrepreneurial spirit with the timeless values and a personal commitment to quality that comes from being 100% owned by our farm families.
It’s a special combination that produces the highest-quality dairy products, including the cheese that has been widely hailed as the world’s best.
*Information provided by: www.vermontbiz.com