(near REXFORD, Kan.) — A Kansas family farm wins a big award, but its greatest success may be how it's changing the nearby community.
McCarty Family Farms is near Rexford in the western part of the state, about 20 miles northeast of Colby.
While it was just named the 2013 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year, Rexford and its schools may be an even bigger winner.
"Were looking at 55,000 gallons of milk a day we produce between the three farms," Mike McCarty told Eyewitness News.
The farm has 105 employees working 24 hours a day, seven days a week milking 7,000 cows. If the size of the operation does not impress you, how the family got started might.
With only 250 cows these farmers from Pennsylvania were watching their legacy end. "In Pennsylvania we had a lot of tough times."
Tom McCarty knew the family would have to relocate to keep on farming. "My father and a couple of us made trips to Kansas in the mid-90's. We spent about 4 or 5 years looking and ultimately settled in the Colby area."
If you have ever been to western Kansas you know space is not a problem
"I think we are in a great location, a lot of great natural resources and great communities and that is why ultimately it was the best thing we could have done."
What sets McCarty's farm apart from other dairies is not just the size but what it can do. It has a processor that separates the milk into three forms: condensed, skim and cream. Having the processor on site allows this dairy to do what most others can't.
It helped the farm become the sole provider to Dannon's yogurt plant in Fort Worth, Texas.
The success doesn't just stay on the McCarty Farm. The nearby city of Rexford is also enjoying the benefits
Between loans and grants, the city is getting nearly $2 million to build new homes for farm workers. The McCarty family donated the land.
The growth is seen in the bleachers at the golden plains basketball game and on the court. "This year we have 23 students who have families at the McCarty dairy," said Superintendent Mary Ellen Welshhon.
"Because we have be able to have a little bit better budget and because we have been a district that has grown or remained constant in enrollment that has allowed us to do more for our students."
As for the award, it's sponsored by the International Dairy Foods Association and Dairy Today magazine.