Recently, USDA awarded the Value Added Producer Grants to several entities in North and South Carolina. In the month of July we’ll be talking to some of those recipients about their operations and plans for the grant money. Today, we hear from Steve Tate, along with his wife Lee, own the Goat Lady Dairy, in Randolph County, NC. Tate offers a bit of history on their operation:
“This is our 18th year of producing cheeses. We have built this business up from a small one when in the beginning years we did everything ourselves, had a small herd of goats and were making the cheese ourselves as a family. We have built it up today where we are the largest goat cheese producer in the state. We were one of just a few when we started. Now there are more than 50 artesian cheese dairies in NC.”
Tate explains that he and his wife are being proactive regarding the succession of their farm once they retire:
“In the last three years we have gone through a serious study of our farm and business and tried to carefully evaluate how it might go on in the future after we retire. The succession planning can be tricky. For us we thought about one of our sons being part of the business but they don’t want to make it their lifes work. So we had to work on a plan that involved non-family members.”
And part of that succession plan was to expand the Goat Lady Diary says Tate:
“We decided to invest a fair amount of our own family savings in expanding the business so that it could be large enough to hire more staff and run itself in the future. We have partnered with two other family farms near us. We have moved the Goat Lady herd, which has been here for 18 years, to one of the partner farms. Those two farms have goat herds and they are milking the goats there.”
We’ll talk further with Steve Tate of The Goat Lady Diary and their Value Added Producer grant tomorrow on Inside Agriculture.