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Say 'Cheese'

Dairy princess focuses on promoting products made from milk
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Mavis Fodness

The milk used to make the cheese sticks given out by 2015 Rock County Dairy Princess Calissa Lubben at area parades could have come from the 16-year-old’s family dairy farm in northeast Rock County.
After all, 8 million pounds of fluid milk from the Lubben dairy farm is produced yearly for Agropur Inc. in Hull, Iowa. The plant primarily makes cheese.
It’s also a plant Lubben said she has personally toured since it began manufacturing cheese more than five years ago.
In Hull, Agropur processes the raw fluid milk into 40- or 640-pound cheese blocks for manufacturers such as Kraft Foods and other store brand companies to process into the final sliced, shredded, chunk or block products sold in grocery stores.
“Milk (from the Lubben farm) is used within 24 hours,” said Deeann Bylsma, Agropur’s distribution supervisor.
“In 12 to 14 days it (the cheese) is shipped out.”
Besides 15 different cheese varieties, Agropur also produces dried whey protein concentrate used in baby formulas and dried permeate, a sweetener.
At 16, Lubben may be too young to know what she will do for the rest of her life, but the daughter of Cal and Char Lubben knows working at a dairy farm has been shaping her future.
“Dairy has always had a big impact in my life,” said the soon-to-be junior at Southwest Minnesota Christian High School in Edgerton.
One early impact was watching her sister, Tina (now 24) represent Rock County as its dairy princess. Lubben is the youngest of four children.
Typically she viewed princesses as wearing glittery gowns and not associating with the grim and hard work of dairy farming.
“I always thought it was kind of cute to be a princess,” Lubben said.
Cute is used only to describe the outfits she wears for public events such as parade appearances and serving ice cream at area fairs and events.
For the rest of the time, Lubben dons blue jeans and tall rubber boots as she helps out at the dairy farm, a 27-year-old family business.
Lubben sees her duty as dairy princesses to inform the public on one message.
“Farmers work very hard to produce milk for the food industry,” she said.
Lubben should know, as she has firsthand experience doing chores for the 175-cow milking herd, 50 dry cows and 200 heifers.
The care of animals is leading her to consider a career in the medical field, possibly as a nurse.
Lubben represented Rock County in the Princess Kay of the Milky Way program. The Midwest Dairy Association-sponsored event names an official goodwill ambassador for the dairy industry as the Minnesota State Fair opens.

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