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October 15, 2007

Cabot Receives A Rural Development Grant From USDA

Grant will help the co-op meet demand for its Cabot Clothbound Cheddar

Montpelier, Vt: Agri-Mark/Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Inc. received a $149,000 Value-Added Project Grant during late September from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That grant will be used to expand production of Cabot's premium-market, natural rind cheddar cheese on behalf of its dairy farmer-owners. "At this time, due to limited aging capacity, the availability of Cabot Clothbound Cheddar is extremely restricted," says Jed Davis, Cabot Creamery Director of Marketing. "This grant will allow us to work with the Cellars at Jasper Hill in Greensboro, Vt., to create this very labor-intensive cheese in quantities that will begin to satisfy the current demand, estimated at more than ten-fold the level of our current production." Cabot Clothbound Cheddar was named "Best of Show" by the American Cheese Society in 2006 and has been widely praised in many major cooking and lifestyle magazines. Cabot makes the cheese at its plant in Cabot in 38-pound wheels, and then it is transported to the Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro. There the unique cheese develops a natural rind and is handled daily and then weekly as it is naturally aged in underground cellars for approximately 10 months. Davis says that this collaboration between Cabot and Jasper Hill Farm allows Cabot to market a "unique, super premium" cheese for an upscale market in an environment that would be impossible to reproduce at Cabot's production plants and aging warehouses. "This innovative new product positions our cheese well in very upscale markets and is good for Cabot, Jasper Hill and our dairy farmer-owners," Davis says. The value-added grant was obtained from USDA Rural Development's Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program, to cover costs to develop and market value added agricultural products. The ultimate goal of this matching grant program is to increase profitability for U.S. agricultural producers. Jack Gleason, Senior Advisor to USDA Rural Development (RD) Under Secretary Thomas Dorr, joined USDA RD State Director Jolinda H. LaClair, to present four ceremonial checks totaling nearly $400,000 in grants to agricultural producers in Vermont on September 25. The other three recipients were Pete's Greens and Good Eats in Craftsbury; Lincoln AgriSource in Randolph Center; and Lincoln Peak Vineyard in New Haven. The funding announcement was hosted by Chris and Michaela Granstrom, owners of Lincoln Peak Vineyard. Dr. Richard Stammer, Cabot President, says the company is very happy to be able to receive this important grant that will be used to develop sales of Cabot Clothbound Cheddar. "As a dairy cooperative we constantly work to develop unique new products that add value to the high quality milk produced by our farmer-owners," says Stammer. "I am particularly pleased that USDA recognizes the importance of our efforts and is willing to help share the financial burden that our farmers often bear alone when working to develop new dairy products and markets."

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