First District Association

“Tony Todero and the entire team at Gray Plant Mooty were instrumental in helping our cooperative close on funding for new manufacturing and intake facilities that will be state-of-the-art. The team handled the demands of the transaction with aplomb and did so on time and under budget.” — Josh Barka, Chair of the Board of Directors at First District Association

First District Association, a dairy cooperative that manufactures milk and cheese products in Litchfield, Minnesota, partnered with Gray Plant Mooty when it needed help to negotiate financing for a multi-million dollar 80,000+ sq. ft. expansion of its manufacturing facilities.

The lending deal, closed in the summer of 2019, sets the stage for a bright future for the cooperative and provides an economic boon for the industry and the community, adding up to 20 new jobs at the 160-employee cooperative.

The Gray Plant Mooty team successfully represented First District Association as the borrower, opposite a club of nine different lenders. Lead GPM attorney Tony Todero said the size and nature of the loans necessarily added complexity to the transaction, so the focus was on distillation, clarification, and above all, practicality.

That focus allowed the client to achieve its straightforward goal of obtaining financing to construct its new facilities in a timely and cost-effective manner.

“We represent lenders and agricultural processors in multi-million financing transactions, but this financing was unique due to the size and complexity of the financing and construction logistics,” said Todero, who specializes in financing agricultural loans and “club” deals like this one. Todero was proud and appreciative to work with the leadership at First District Association, the partnering financial institutions and their counsel, and the collaborative team at Gray Plant Mooty.

Jeff Peterson and I tag teamed seamlessly,” said Todero. That collaboration avoided redundancy in work efforts and led to timely completion of all stages of the project, despite Todero’s paternity leave in the middle of the transaction. Todero also noted that the success of the transaction was due in no small part to the leadership team at First District Association, who had clearly delineated responsibilities and demonstrated an extremely high level of organization.

First District Association, formed in 1921 when 11 creameries in the Litchfield, Minnesota-area came together, is well poised to continue its long tradition of manufacturing dairy products from milk supplied by Minnesota family farms. The organization’s vision is to expand upon its current level of processing more than 1.5 billion pounds of milk a year to more than 2.7 billion pounds of milk per year. The cooperative’s products range from milk and creams to a variety of cheeses, whey proteins, and other powdered products used in infant formula, sports nutrition, bakery, and snack foods. Learn more at

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