Amish Farmer-Owned Business Awarded Loan for Cheese Making Facility
By CHRIS ALDRIDGE, Kentucky Agricultural News
FRANKFORT (June 29, 2018) — A group of Amish farmers in Christian, Todd, and Trigg counties, calling itself Tri-County Milk, was approved for a $150,000 Agricultural Processing Loan June 8 by the Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corp. (KAFC), chaired by Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles.
Planters Bank in Hopkinsville is providing a matching $150,000 loan toward the $444,000 total construction cost of a 6,000-square-foot cheese making facility on six acres outside Trenton in southern Todd County near the Tennessee border.
“They raised a lot of the money themselves,” said Planters loan officer Landan Stallons. “They’re doing it like a cooperative and sold shares.”
Stallons said Tri-County Milk has sold more than 200 shares in their Amish community, raising $292,000 as of June 8, with sales still going on.
Tri-County plans to produce 37,000 pounds of cheese in its first year, according to the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy (GOAP), which administers the KAFC. It intends to sell at farmers’ markets, to Tennessee restaurants in nearby Clarksville and Nashville, and in a storefront at the facility, Stallons said.
“They’re still working on the marketing piece of it,” Stallons said.
In the beginning, Tri-County will focus on four types of cheese: fresh curds, Swiss, stretchy mozzarella, and aged cheddar, according to GOAP. Plans are for production to increase to 110,000 pounds in the fourth year.
“They have a board [of seven directors], and they’ve been working on this thing for about a year and a half,” Stallons added.
Stallons said the board, headed by Harvey Zimmerman, toured Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese, a Kentucky Proud cheesemaker in Barren County, and other artisan cheesemakers in Wisconsin.
Stallons said the board is anxious to get construction under way in early July.
“They’re wanting to start in the next 30 days,” Stallons said on June 8. “They wanted to start yesterday. They’re excited about it. Their plans and hopes are it turns into something fairly big.”