East Tennessee family dairy farm gets creative to stay afloat

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JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- One East Tennessee farm family is trying two different approaches to keeping the family farm in business. In rural Jefferson County, dad Brian Stooksbury has longed milked a dairy herd that now includes around 225 cows. When he and other farmers recently lost the opportunity to sell with current contracts to milk companies, he helped form a new group.

Now Stooksbury is the Vice President of Appalachian Dairy Farmers Cooperative. The group is helping southeastern farmers continue to have a market for their milk, although they are having to accept lower and lower prices for it. This milk ends up in grocery stores throughout the region.

In the meantime, his grown son, Brant Stooksbury, is building an on-farm processing facility and store that plans on getting approval to sell milk direct to the public. The younger Stooksbury said the milk will be old-fashioned.

"It'll be number one grade A milk," he said. "but it'll be old-fashioned cream line milk. You'll have to shake the jug."

He explained he will pasteurize the milk on-site to make sure it complies with safety regulations. He hopes to open the store by the end of summer.

Annette Stooksbury said she is hopeful that both her husband and son's efforts can help the family farm survive. "We've had a good life here on this farm," she said tearfully.