If there was such an award for dairy term of the year, “price volatility” would have won it four times in 2009 through 2012. But long before that, the McCarty family wanted to take control of volatility on their farm by vertically integrating their dairy.
McCarty Family Farms’ on-farm processing plant condenses milk into three products; cream that heads to Daisy, a high-protein liquid for Dannon, and 65-degree water that heads back to the adjoining farm.The McCarty family started milking cows 100 years, ago, on a farm in Pennsylvania in 1914. The family worked and lived on that farm, building it to a 150-cow tie-stall, until Tom and Judy McCarty bought a wheat farm near Rexford, Kansas, in 1999 with intention to move the cows and the family.
In 2000, they began milking cows at that site, now called McCarty Dairy. The nearby community of Bird City asked the family to consider a farm there also, which they did add in 2007.
By 2010, the family, now including Tom, Judy, their four sons and their families, were fed up with price volatility and began exploring partnership opportunities with just about every processor in the western U.S., said Joe Gillespie at the Dairy Practices Council annual meeting in Kansas City, Mo., last week. Gillespie serves as operations manager of the McCarty’s on-farm processing plant, but previously served as their herd veterinarian.
“To be honest, the family was not interested in end-product processing,” explained Gillespie. “But they were interested in limiting volatility, and Dannon was interested in limiting volatility and better control over their products.”
The McCartys wanted a processing partner that could help them fulfill their goals of price stability, better product traceability and transparency, and being more environmentally sustainable. They found that partner in Dannon, who now receives their product under an exclusive contract.