Former Vreba Hoff farms transfer ownership

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SALEM, Ohio —  The good news: Staff at Vreba Hoff Dairy farms in southern Michigan won’t lose their jobs. The bad news: Rabo AgriFinance now owns the farms as Southern Michigan Dairies LLC.

The transfer of ownership was effective Nov. 12, according to the Lenawee and Hillsdale County Registers of Deeds. The move was an effort for Rabo AgriFinance to avoid foreclosing on the dairy operations.

Cecilia Conway, spokeswoman for Vreba Hoff Dairy Development, said the bank is now running Vreba Hoff I, Vreba Hoff II and the Waldron Dairy.

According to federal court records, Rabo AgriFinance had filed a motion in Grand Rapids in October for the court to appoint a receiver for the dairy farms, but then filed another motion a few days later asking for a delay to continue negotiations with Vreba Hoff until Dec. 13.

Conway said Vreba Hoff Dairy is helping with the transition.

She said Vreba Hoff Dairy Development is pleased the staff has retained their positions at the farm and the dairies are still operating.

“There are cows still being milked and that’s a good thing,” Conway said.

Conway said the unfortunate demise of the dairy farms was because of the current significant economic downturn in the dairy industry that has been occurring since 2008.

“High corn prices and low milk prices. It’s just a bad combination for the dairy industry,” Conway said.

Conway said Vreba Hoff Dairy Development is rebuilding and has no plans to close its doors.

“We are still around. We are working on restructuring,” said Conway. “We expect to see a lot of transition in the dairy business until it’s a better time to milk cows. The sad part is that it may mean some barns remain empty until those days come along.”

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