Bongards Creameries recognized with water quality achievement award

The Perham facility provides irrigation and animal feed with local farmers.

Elizabeth Huwe/FOCUS At Bongards’, raw milk comes in by the semi-tanker to begin the cheese making process. After a truck arrives, a sample of the milk is taken and sent to Bongards’ lab to be tested. Tests are run to check for antibiotics or other contaminants. If the milk isn’t pure, it is never unloaded or used. After given the (literal) green light, a vacuum hose is attached to the truck’s spigot and the milk enters a series of stainless steel pipes to go into the plant.

The Central States Water Environment Association recognized Bongards Creameries with the 2020 Industrial Water Quality Achievement Award in early November.

The award is in recognition of Bongards’ waste reduction goals, wastewater treatment success, water reuse and other environmental initiatives at their Perham natural cheese production plant, according to a Bongards news release. The facility is located in an environmentally sensitive area with many lakes and the Otter Tail River.

“In order to maintain the valuable natural resources of our local Perham community, responsible management of the wastewater generated from our cheese production process is of critical importance to Bongards,” Daryl Larson, Bongards president and CEO, said in the release.

As plant capacity has increased in recent years, Bongards has made continuous improvements to their wastewater treatment programs and facilities, increasing capacity and monitoring capabilities. Once treated, the wastewater is used to irrigate local fields. In addition, the company repurposes a cheese production by-product that was previously discarded, generating a nutrient source that is valuable for animal feed, according to the release.

The Bongards Perham production plant is a 140,000 square foot facility, capable of processing more than 4 million pounds of milk daily into natural cheese blocks and barrels.


Bongards Creameries is a farmer-owned co-op that was formed in 1908 in the southeastern Minnesota town of Bongards. The co-op’s dairy farmers are based in Minnesota and North Dakota. Corporate offices are in Chanhassen, and the company’s three production facilities are in Bongards, Minn., Perham, and Humboldt, Tenn.

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