Prairie Farms Dairy and Swiss Valley Farms announced last week the approval by a proposed merger between the two companies. Respective cooperatives supported the move overwhelmingly, according to a press release.

Both companies are farmer-owned cooperatives and rank among the USDA’s list of Top 100 Cooperatives. The merger agreement was originally announced last year and is expected to close in March. The new company will operate under the name Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc., and both organizations will retain their brand names.

“We had a great business relationship with Swiss Valley for many years, and are pleased to have reached this important milestone,” says Ed Mullins, Prairie Farms CEO. “Much has changed since our cooperative was founded in 1938, and the merger reflects our purpose, which is to generate sales and profit for our cooperative members.”

Mullins pointed out declining fluid milk sales, the rise in cheese consumption and the complementary nature of Swiss Valley’s product line in speaking on how the merger will address challenges.

The company will remain under the direction of Mullins while Chris Hoeger, CEO of Swiss Valley, will continue with the company as President of the newly formed Prairie Farms Cheese Division.