June 18, 2020
The Burton family has had strong roots in the dairy industry for generations and continues to plan for future generations.
“I am 50 years old and this is all I have ever known. I went on my own when I was 30,” said Brad Burton.
While dairying is his heritage, he stayed in the family business because it is something he loves to be involved in.
“When I was in the sixth or seventh grade, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I never thought any different,” said Burton.
Brad’s passion about his cattle and operation comes through as he talks about the farm.
“I love cows. You will barely ever see me get on a tractor; you will see me here in my barn.”
While the dairy industry has faced some of its toughest years recently, Burton has continued to build onto his operation and provide quality milk for citizens across the country.
Brad and his son, Mason, work together on this enterprise and milk 365 head of Holstein cattle three times a day and currently raise 250 bred heifers.
“My goal is to finish the race and not stop. Quitting is not in my vocabulary. I want to finish what I started,” said Burton.
Fortunitely, the Burtons have been able to survive the current dairy crisis and were able to keep their contract with their buyers, unlike other farmers who lost contracts.
The past two years have been particularly hard for dairy farmers in Kentucky, who not only have reeled from low prices but some also lost contracts because of major shifts made by processors and retailers.
Two years ago the Burtons built all new facilities. Burton is currently in the works to build another milk parlor so he can milk up to 500 head of cattle. He hopes that can be in the works by September.
Burton said the biggest challenge has been the volatility in fluid milk prices.
“Maybe one day the prices will be like they were back in 2014,” said Burton.
While consumers are enjoying lower prices on a gallon of milk in retail stores, the price drop on the farm had reduced Burton’s income nearly by half, he said. Producers can only affect prices by reaching some quality measurements but have little control on the price they are given.
Burton hopes his expansion and the family’s hard work can allow him to remain in the industry for years to come.
“When I am 85 years old, I hope I am still out here still working,” said Brad. “If they can give me just a little I am keeping on going,” said Burton.
According to the 2017 USDA Census, Adair County ranks third in the commonwealth for total volume of milk produced and represents 10 percent of all dairy cattle in Kentucky.
Adair County is home to 4,573 dairy cows and 28 dairy farms are dispersed throughout the community.
By Abigal Smoot
Adair County Community Voice