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ARCHIVED  August 13, 1999

Mushroom

By Dan Feiveson
Business Report Staff WriterMILLIKEN — A new mushroom farm may be cropping up in Weld County.
Mountain Meadow Mushrooms Inc., a producer of white-button mushrooms based in Escondido, Calif., is negotiating with the town of Milliken over the deal, which would provide the rural community with an estimated 75 jobs, possibly growing to 150 over the next several years.
“Our ultimate goal is about five million pounds of mushrooms a year, and that would require 70 employees,” reported Mountain Meadow owner Robert Crouch. “99 percent would be hired locally.
“It’s a market that’s not being served very well,” he added, explaining the company’s interest in Northern Colorado. “We’ve been looking at places for three years.”
Joel Smiley, town manager in Kersey, confirmed that Mountain Meadow had approached other communities (including Kersey) concerning a Northern Colorado mushroom farm, but could not comment on the reasons the company chose Milliken over other locations.
The state has also been involved.
“Our office has been working with Milliken, but to the best of my knowledge, it is still not a done deal,´ said David Solin, director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development.
Mountain Meadow’s new facility has been pre-approved for a Community Development Block Grant based on the number of low- to moderate-income jobs created, Solin said. The grant will be used to fund infrastructure development of the project if the deal goes through.
“They (Milliken and Mountain Meadow) have been working on this deal for a while — it’s just a matter of getting it finalized,” Solin added.
Crouch hopes to have the deal finalized soon. He initially hoped to break ground on the new site by the end of 1999, but now sees the spring of 2000 as a more realistic goal for getting started. The Milliken plant would be Mountain Meadow’s first location outside of Escondido, but the company is already eyeing another possible market elsewhere in the country.
“I was aware Mountain Meadow has talked about and looked into moving into Colorado for some time,´ said Lynn Mortensen, general manager of Rakhra Mushroom Farm Corp.’s Alamosa facility. “There are three major producers already in the area — there’s more product in the market than business. Marketing will be an issue and a challenge for all of us just as it is right now.”
“The market for mushrooms is a very tough market, very competitive,” agreed Crouch, who has owned the farm in Escondido since 1984. “In the last 15 years, the number of farms in the U.S. has shrunk from 700 to about 130. There’s not much growth in the business.
“The prices that we’re selling mushrooms for today are the same as they were 15 years ago,” he added. “In order for us to make money, we have to do things more efficiently and improve productivity.”

By Dan Feiveson
Business Report Staff WriterMILLIKEN — A new mushroom farm may be cropping up in Weld County.
Mountain Meadow Mushrooms Inc., a producer of white-button mushrooms based in Escondido, Calif., is negotiating with the town of Milliken over the deal, which would provide the rural community with an estimated 75 jobs, possibly growing to 150 over the next several years.
“Our ultimate goal is about five million pounds of mushrooms a year, and that would require 70 employees,” reported Mountain Meadow owner Robert Crouch. “99 percent would be hired locally.
“It’s a market that’s not being served very…

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