Nova Scotia

Agropur closing Cook's Dairy in Yarmouth

A Quebec company is closing Cook’s Dairy in Yarmouth, N.S., a little more than a year after buying the facility.

Operation moving to Bedford plant

A former employee says he isn't surprised to hear today the Quebec owners of Cook’s Dairy in Yarmouth, N.S., are closing the plant a little more than a year after buying the facility.

Some 21 people will lose their jobs when the dairy closes later in October.

Danny Landry left Cook's Dairy a year ago, just months after Agropur took over the Cook family business.

He worked for Cook's for more than 40 years, most of that time making delivery runs.

Landry says he just wasn't needed any more and left on his own terms.

"I felt it was coming," he said. "I said, if it's still there in a year I'll be surprised."

Agropur, which took over Cook's Dairy in June 2013, says the plant will stop operating on Oct. 17. It is moving its operations to its Bedford plant, which employs 225 people. 

"We decided to transfer the volume to Bedford. So the milk is going to remain in Nova Scotia,"  said Marc Labelle, a spokesman for Agropur.

"The intention is never to close a plant, that's for sure. Whenever we acquire, whenever there's an acquisition or a merger, we have to look at the business side of things and the business side of things comes with efficiency and cost management."

The Cook's Dairy site will be used as a cooler only. Other plans for that site are still up in the air. 

Labelle said dairy farmers in the province will not be affected by the closure, since the company will still be purchasing as much product from within Nova Scotia. 

Agropur took over Farmers Dairy in February 2013.

Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell said he is disappointed with the decision.

"Cook's Dairy was created as a family-owned business and formed a critical part of the community," he said. "I am saddened that this would happen at a time when government is trying to support the agriculture industry in rural Nova Scotia."

Cook's Dairy, the leading milk brand in Southwestern Nova Scotia supplying Shelburne, Yarmouth and Digby counties, had been owned by the Cook family for 85 years.

Cook's produced 2.7 million litres of milk a year. Longueuil-based Agropur produces 3.1 billion litres at 27 plants.

Colwell said a government transition team is in place to help workers with career counselling and planning, resume updating, job searches and training, if needed. 

Landry says he only has good memories of how the Cooks ran their family business for years. 

"I'm sorry to hear that, what I heard today," he said. "I'm really sorry. I feel bad for the staff."