Producer Spotlight

The McCarty Family pictured left to right: mike, Clay, Judy, Tom, David and Ken.

The McCarty Family pictured left to right: Mike, Clay, Judy, Tom, David and Ken.

McCarty Family Farms LLC
McCarty Family, Rexford, Kansas

When Tom and Judy McCarty made the decision to relocate the family dairy from Northeast Pennsylvania to Western Kansas in 2000, it was because they viewed the opportunities for young people who wanted to be involved in agriculture at a greater advantage. With this move, it was evident the commitment they were making would not only impact their own future in agriculture, but their sons’ futures as well.

Tom and Judy along with their four sons – Mike, Clay, David and Ken — were milking 300 head a day when they started their operation near Rexford, Kansas, in April 2000. This was a slight increase from their operation in Pennsylvania where they milked 150 head. By the end of the year, they had expanded the farm to 1,200 head. Their desire for growth allowed them to continuously add cattle at their Rexford location and after being approached by an economic development group, added a sister dairy near Bird City, Kansas, in 2008 taking the McCarty Family Farm herd size to 3,500 milking head. The family operation continued to seize growth opportunities.

Aspiring to make a greater connection with the consumer, the McCarty Family formed a relationship with Dannon Yogurt where they would be a direct supplier to one of the Dannon yogurt manufacturing facilities. With this added growth opportunity, the operation took over an empty facility north of Scott City, Kansas, where it added 2,300 head in November 2011. They also increased the Rexford location to 2,000 head and Bird City to 2,700. With the addition of the on-farm processing plant, McCarty Family Farms was able to process 550,000 pounds of raw milk each day. Recently, McCarty Family Farms took over a farm in Beaver City, Nebraska, increasing the amount of raw milk produced and processed each day to 640,000 pounds.

On the farms they are constantly looking for ways to make improvements. Currently all locations within the operation have Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) trained staff members. Its goal is to eventually have all 105 on-site employees BQA certified.

Ken McCarty, youngest of the four brothers, has a progressive outlook on the goals they are working toward. His role is focused on management of sustainability, animal welfare and special projects. He regularly works with veterinarians on training needs and protocols in efforts to create and maintain a positive public perception. In addition to BQA, McCarty is also responsible for the farm’s participation in the VALIDUS animal welfare program.

“We are proud that all our dairies are BQA certified,” McCarty said. “The BQA principles align well with the same principles that we abide by.”

McCarty and family utilize these programs to help develop a well-rounded business model. He believes the future of the operation is tied directly to the success and longevity of communities where they live. As well as taking an active role in their hometown communities, McCarty Family Farm has an open door to all types of groups who want to tour the facilities. They have given tours to a variety of groups ranging from pre-school age youth to veterinary students and red hat ladies to family reunions.

In addition to engaging people in the day-to-day operations, they have begun an initiative to provide their product to school age children. With the help of national check off group, Southwest Dairy Farmers and Dannon, the McCarty family created a program titled “Yogurt for Youth” in which they provide nutritious dairy snacks at no cost to the school or student. This year they are anticipating a donation of 5,000 servings of yogurt per week. The donations are dispersed to local schools in the communities where the McCarty family farms are located.

“We felt there was a huge need to be met as schools were losing funding for healthy snacks,” McCarty said. “It was an important need that we could step in and fill for schools, but most importantly the kids.”

The operation has been recognized nationally for its accomplishments for care directed toward communities, employees, cattle and environmental standards. McCarty is thankful, yet humbled by these recognitions. He feels the principles they have been recognized for shouldn’t be considered innovative, but simply the right thing to do. He hopes these practices will become more of what is considered “the norm.”

“Programs like BCI that are pushing more animal welfare aspects and employee training is one way that we can take one more step in achieving that goal,” he said.

This year the McCarty Family Farm is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The McCarthys have much to celebrate since the beginning when their great-grandfather started out milking eight cows by hand in a barn that still stands in Northeast Pennsylvania today.