Chaney's Dairy Barn relies on ice cream shop to get through dairy crisis

WARREN COUNTY, Kentucky (WBKO) -- Uncertainty is something that Carl Chaney is most certain of.

"You just don't know," he says.

Carl is a fourth generation farmer, tending to 52 head of dairy cattle every day on the family farm just south of Bowling Green.

But much like the clouds that eclipsed the sunshine on Tuesday, large dairy corporations seem to be casting a shadow on local farmers.

"They're not going to be buying milk from other processors, they're going to be processing their own," Chaney says about bigger corporations who buy dairy from local farms.

It was earlier this year when Walmart announced it would be processing it's own milk. Shortly after, Dean's Dairy sent out a letter to 11 farmers in Kentucky, telling them to find new business by July 1.

"My brother in-law and sister up in Shelbyville, Kentucky, they got a letter," Chaney mentions. "They're really up in the air, they don't know what they're going to do."

"I'm just afraid they're not going to be able to find a market for that milk."

Milk prices have dropped nearly 40 percent since 2014, forcing countless Kentucky farmers to sell.

It's just hard to keep now-a-days.

"That's what we strive for every year, for the dairy to be self-sufficient," Chaney says. "It's just not possible at these prices."

Walk into the red barn just up the drive from the cattle, you'll find some of the best ice cream in the state. That ice cream at Chaney's Dairy Barn, might just save the farm in this crisis.

"When there are periods like this when we lose money here at the farm milking cows, the ice cream store is helpful in subsidizing the cows," he says. "Because of the ice cream store, we're able to continue to do business."

Four generations. Thousands of cows. Countless hours of work. This isn't just a job.

"What people don't realize is that dairying is a way of life," Chaney adds. "it's not just a business. It's not something you get into and you get out of. You build relationships with these cows, it becomes a part of you, it becomes a part of your family.

"You just don't get out."

Uncertainty brings along fear, but it is reality.

"I don't know, it's really sad."

Maybe that's what makes things so difficult for dairy farmers across the state.

The 19 dairy farmers who received the letter from Deans have until July 1 to find a new buyer.

Chaney's is not included in that list.



 
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