MIDDLEBURY, Vt. (AP) – The fire that disabled a Hinesburg cheese plant last month could end up hurting dairy farmers who supplied milk to the facility.

Before the Sept. 29 fire, the Saputo Cheese USA plant was receiving about a million pounds of milk a day from 88 dairy farmers in western Vermont and New York through a contract with Agri-Mark Cabot Inc., said Diane Bothfeld of the Department of Agriculture Food and Markets.

“That worked out to about 10 to 12 percent of the milk production,” Bothfeld said.

Farmers are hoping the plant will be able to reopen within about two months.

Meanwhile, they’re want to find new markets without significantly increasing transportation costs.

“Everybody is working together to try to find a home for this milk,” said Middlebury dairy farmer Ted Foster, a member of the Agri-Mark cooperative who milks 380 Holsteins.

Besides mozzarella, the Saputo plant in Hinesburg makes mozzarella and other specialty and shredded cheeses. At the time of the fire, the plant employed about 100 people.

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