The McCarty Family Farms, a family-owned dairy farm in western Kansas, was recognized as the 2013 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year, an award co-sponsored by the International Dairy Foods Association and Dairy Today magazine. The Kansas Department of Agriculture nominated the McCarty Family Farms for the award, which honors active dairy farms in the United States that are improving efficiency through forward-thinking management practices, production technologies or marketing programs.
"Tom and Judy McCarty took a risk and moved from rural Pennsylvania to the plains of Kansas in 1999 to give their four sons the opportunity to fulfill their goals of being dairy farmers," said Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman. "Thirteen years later, the McCarty Family Farms has become an innovative leader in the Kansas dairy sector and a key component in three western Kansas communities, Bird City, Rexford and Scott City, creating steady jobs and a boost to the rural economies."
In 2010, the McCarty family began discussions with the Dannon Company, the top selling yogurt maker in the United States, which resulted in a multi-year agreement for the McCarty's to become the sole supplier for fresh milk at Dannon's yogurt plant in Fort Worth, Texas. As a result of the agreement, the McCarty's built a milk processing plant at the Rexford dairy in 2011 that will enable them to exclusively and directly supply Dannon with condensed skim milk and pasteurized cream.
Currently, the McCarty's process approximately 500,000 pounds of milk each day from around 59,000 gallons of raw milk that comes from all three dairy locations. Condensing milk at the processing plant allows the McCarty's to reclaim 39,000 gallons of water daily and has reduced the number of trucks needed to ship milk by 75 percent.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
At McCarty Family Farms, Secretary Rodman said animal care and well-being is a top priority. Staff at each of the locations has completed the Dairy and Beef Quality Assurance certifications. The McCarty dairies are among the fewer than 20 dairies in the country that have completed the Validus Animal Welfare Review Certification, an intensive animal welfare training program that was developed by dairy experts and is regularly reviewed by world renowned animal welfare expert Temple Grandin.
"By receiving certification for these science-based, industry-led animal care and handling guidelines, the McCarty's have demonstrated a true commitment to not only providing their animals with the highest quality of care but also to basing their production practices on the latest science," Secretary Rodman said.
Secretary Rodman said the McCartys have made significant investment to become more efficient but have also made investments in their more than 100 employees and in their communities. McCarty Family Farms has put a priority on making long-term hires, focusing on hiring individuals with families and providing them with dynamic benefits, including competitive wages and health benefits, paid vacations, opportunities for bonuses, flexible work hours and a generous housing package.
"By making it a priority to invest in their employees, the McCarty dairies have created happier, healthier work and home environments for their employees, who in turn, generate economic growth in their local economies," Rodman said. "Expansion of the McCarty dairies has also led to increased enrollment in schools, small business expansion and regional economic growth. The McCarty model to build environmentally responsible, socially sustainable, economically thriving rural communities can be a model for other dairy farms in Kansas and across the nation."