By: Ollie Anderson
Dairy was big business in Blue Earth County from before the 1890s through the present day. In 1918, dairy production in Minnesota was third behind wheat and corn. There were 2279 creamery patrons and 17,754 dairy cows in Blue Earth County. In 1919, butter manufacturers of Minnesota received sixteen of eighteen awards from the National Buttermakers Association. There were at least seventeen creameries in Blue Earth County. Further expansion resulted in there being five creameries in Mankato alone. The failure of the wheat crop in the 1870s prompted the search for another source of income for farmers. Milk products proved to be a “gold mine”. The decline of wheat brought about a diversification of farming that included raising stock and small scale dairying. Blue Earth County farmers proved to be progressive, inexorably adding dairy production to their inventory and introducing Holstein, Jersey, Gurnsey, and Ayrshire breeds. The community had benefited from better dairying promotion and cooperative breeding programs.
Milk and cream checks provided a substantial source of income. Production and income steadily increased even through the period of World War II when there was a shortage of workers. Sanitary ratings of the various dairies were available to producers and the public. Indeed, farmers were paid on the basis of the quality of their milk. In January of 1916, new health rules were promulgated requiring that anyone having a communicable disease be reported to the person in charge of a dairy, creamery, or milk station. Even a century ago, the citizens of Blue Earth County were concerned with their health.
In early 1890, the Creamery Package Company, an outfitter of creameries, was rebuilt after a fire. This company produced woodenware products as well as being the exclusive agent for the Danish-Weston centrifugal cream separator and the western agent for the DeLaval separator. The territory covered by the Creamery Package Company included adjacent states as well as states further south and west. This company provided all the equipment and accoutrements necessary for creameries.