Farming is in Elizabeth Lunsford’s blood. As a child, she helped on her family farm in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which has been in the family since the late 1800s. In 2003, her parents added Chaney's Dairy Barn, a creamery where they make and sell ice cream. The Barn quickly became a destination for people to enjoy locally produced food and learn about where their food comes from and how it's made.
After living away from Bowling Green for several years, Elizabeth and her husband committed to returning to the Chaney Farm in 2014 to help run the operation. She began to dream of an extension to the business where milk from their Jersey cows could be bottled and sold locally. In 2019, she turned to Farm Credit Mid-America to help make that dream a reality.
“For the Farm Credit team, ‘no’ just wasn't a consideration," says Elizabeth. "Everyone was extremely helpful and encouraging as they helped us discuss our plans. With a lease through Farm Credit Mid-America, we built our milk processing plant.”
During the last year, the plant’s milk production grew to the point that they were able to do something Elizabeth had wanted to do for a long time: support other farmers and buy their milk. Today, they are bottling around 35,000 pounds of milk a week, with about 25% of that coming from another local farm.
After finding success in partnering with Farm Credit Mid-America, Elizabeth and her husband decided to branch out on their own. They bought their first farm in 2020 with financing from the agricultural cooperative and are currently raising Texas Longhorns and a Wagyu cross.
“Farm Credit Mid-America is more than just a lender to us," she says. "They really want us to succeed. Our loan officer, Brandon Harris, has been incredibly knowledgeable and a great resource. He's really been an asset to our operation and its future.”
For the last two years, Elizabeth has also served on Farm Credit Mid-America’s Advocate Council, a diverse group of the cooperative’s customer-owners who represent rural communities across Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
“I think [the Advocate Council] is just another piece of why Farm Credit is a really great organization in addition to being farmer-owned,” says Elizabeth.
She especially enjoys the training and speakers at the Advocate Council meetings, which add value to working with Farm Credit Mid-America.
“It’s a way for Farm Credit to get feedback from their customers about the programs it has and or the direction they are going as a company. They listen to us, but they also give us a lot back.”