Iowa Amish Cheese Plant Halts Operations Over Technology Dispute

An Amish cheese plant in northeast Iowa has halted operations amid production problems and member complaints that the plant was using electricity and other modern technology to make the cheese.

The Golden Ridge Cheese Cooperative in Cresco stopped accepting milk last week from its Old Order Amish farmers and stopped making cheese several months ago, said Dan Gingerich, a co-op board member and an Old Order Amish dairy producer.

He said debt and religious disputes contributed to the decision to close. He said the Old Order Amish — who shun modern conveniences such as automobiles and electricity — were unhappy with how the plant was run.

He also cited "quality problems" with the cheese that has caused the co-op to lose about $1 million. It was not immediately clear what quality issues needed to be addressed or what caused them.

The co-op is looking for a buyer or a merger partner to erase its debt, he said. A deal could be done within a couple weeks, he said.

Golden Ridge was founded in 1999 by 40 Old Order Amish dairy farmers in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota.