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Committed to the dairy industry

Weigel’s pledges to only purchase Tennessee milk
Story and photos by: Glen Liford 5/24/2019

 

Chairman Bill Weigel, left, along with, from left, Beth Shipley and mother Ann, field questions from the press after announcing Weigel’s commitment to only sell Tennessee Milk. The Shipley’s Hickory Grove Dairy in Speedwell is among the largest suppliers of milk to the Powell-based company.
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Weigel’s, one of the state’s largest milk processors, has announced its commitment to only use milk produced in Tennessee.

 The decision was announced at a press event held April 26 at the company’s corporate headquarters in Powell. In attendance were Weigel’s staff, Tennessee Department of Agriculture officials, dairy industry leaders, and a host of media representatives.

As a visual representation of that commitment, all Weigel’s milk will now carry the new Tennessee Milk logo that was created to help consumers identify the sourcing and production of dairy products from Tennessee. Late last year, Tennessee’s 110th General Assembly passed legislation enacting the Tennessee Milk logo. The logo was developed by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to support the state’s dairy farmers and to help consumers readily identify milk and other dairy products that are entirely sourced and produced in Tennessee.

“Milk has been an important part of our heritage for over 85 years,” said Bill Weigel, chairman of Weigel’s. “This new logo represents the pride and dedication of our Tennessee farmers, and we are proud to announce that Weigel’s will process and distribute milk only from Tennessee dairy farms.”

Weigel’s joins the Middle Tennessee State University Creamery, Sunrise Dairy, Hatcher Family Dairy, and G & G Family Dairy as those committed to promoting Tennessee Milk.

According to the company’s website, the Weigel family got their start in the dairy business in 1931 with a “herd” of four cows, selling raw milk for nine cents a gallon. In 1936, the dairy became among the first in East Tennessee to distribute pasteurized milk. At that time, a total of 12 people were employed on the farm and dairy.

In the 1950s, the Weigel family pioneered the drive-thru dairy store in East Tennessee. Customers would pull up to the window, return their empty glass gallon containers, and drive off with a full bottle of fresh Weigel’s milk. It was from these simple beginnings that the family founded their Jug o’ Milk brand. The Weigel’s modern convenience stores developed from this simple concept, and the company now has 67 locations throughout East Tennessee. The company sells more than 2.5 million gallons of milk annually.

Representing Weigel’s dairy farmer suppliers at the event were Ann Shipley and daughter Beth from Hickory Grove Dairy in Speedwell. With more than 700 milk cows, the Claiborne Farmers Co-op customers are a true family dairy and currently among Weigel’s largest suppliers. Ann and Beth, along with Ann’s husband Jim, son William, and some 10 employees work together on the farm.

“We’re blessed to be able to sell our milk locally to our friends and neighbors and see where our milk is going,” said Beth, noting that the family sells their milk through Dairy Farmers of America, the national milk marketing cooperative, which in turn sells to Weigel’s. “We need this program to work. Dairy farmers are really struggling. I have lots of friends who have gone out of business, but this effort gives us hope.”

Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Charlie Hatcher, DVM, commended the business for its support of the state’s dairy industry.

“We appreciate Weigel’s commitment to buy Tennessee milk from Tennessee dairymen and bottled by a Tennessee processing facility and sold back to Tennessee customers,” said Hatcher. “We need more of this to happen if we are to help save dairy in Tennessee. This is a good start. I congratulate everyone involved in this. It’s important to the industry. I wholeheartedly support it, and I know everyone in this room does. Together we can move forward.”

According to TDA’s press release for the event, Tennessee has 230 dairy farms and approximately 33,500 dairy cows, goats, and sheep. For more information about the Tennessee Milk logo, contact Danny Sutton at danny.sutton@tn.gov or 615-837-5534.

 
 
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