Hastings Creamery shutters doors for good after milk leak earlier this summer

The Hastings Creamery, around for more than a century, has shut its doors after a large milk leak earlier this summer led to the creamery being cut off from the city’s sewer system.

Hastings City Administrator Dan Wietecha said the city was supposed to meet with creamery staff last week to work through compliance issues. But a day before the meeting, the city got word the creamery wouldn’t make the meeting.

Instead, they were closing.

“It’s never easy to lose a long-standing business like this,” Wietecha said. “It impacts the community and the jobs it creates for the local economy.”

Wietecha said the creamery had a number of issues to deal with including “internally with management, as well as compliance issues with building permits and discharge of wastewater and a lot of it added up and might have been difficult for them to dig out of the hole they had gotten themselves into.”

In a June Facebook post, the creamery called its situation “critical” and announced the business had just learned they were going to be shut down June 5 for fats, oils and grease “violations against our water permit.” The creamery was told it had been in violation since 2013 when a statute was put in place.

The most recent owners, who bought the creamery in 2021, began working with a consultant to create a system that didn’t allow those substances to enter the city sewer.

“This plan will take time to implement, however,” the creamery wrote in the June post. “While we do not deny that this violation has occurred, we have been working diligently to correct equipment issues and train staff. We do need the plant to remain in operation so that plant employees can keep their jobs and our 40+ farm families can keep their dairies going as there is nowhere else for their milk to go. This could lead to economic hardship for entire communities.”

The Metropolitan Council said in a Tuesday statement that they spent several months partnering with the creamery, the city of Hastings, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture “to find a solution that supports local milk producers while protecting community water supply. The Hastings Creamery is an important asset to the region, and we are committed to partnering on any future resolutions that supports the Creamery and the safety of the Hastings community.”

The creamery switched to hauling its wastewater to a plant in St. Paul, Minnesota Public Radio News reported in June. They said dairy farmers in the region are facing an oversaturated market and the situation had been made worse for some farmers when the Met Council cut off sewer service to the Hastings Creamery.

The Hastings Creamery began in 1913 as a butter manufacturer and then began bottling milk in 1920, according to its website.

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