SHENANGO TWP., Pa. (WKBN) – The past few years have not been easy on dairy farmers. Some even had to close. Dean Foods and Borden Dairy filed for bankruptcy within the last two months.
However, there is a family of dairy farmers in Mercer County that is expanding with the help of a grant from the sate of Pennsylvania.
The 115 year old family farm, Canon Dairy Farm, is in Shenango Township, about three miles southwest of West Middlesex. At one point, they even bottle their own milk.
The owners of the farm, Mark and Marie Canon, recently found out they were the recipients of a $50,000 grant from the state of Pennsylvania to expand their dairy operation.
“We’re probably just going to do most of our marketing here at the farm, and we will branch out eventually as it evolves,” said Mark Canon.
Along with their 110 head of cattle, the Canons will be opening a creamery or processing operation either later this summer or sometime next fall.
This means that they will be bottling their own milk and making their own butter and cheese.
One of the reasons they’re doing this is because their son and daughter also want to get into the dairy farm operation. In order for that, they need more money to support more people.
“Part of farmers’ problems is we’re not diverse enough with our own product that we produce and going into the processing gives us that ability to be more flexible,” said Marie Canon.
They have already invested in automated milking machines.
Canon Creamery products won’t be sold in grocery stores. The plan is to eventually take a barn on the porperty and make it a retail shop.
As far as the $50,000 state grant, the Canons would have built the processing plant without it, but having the grant helps.
“So what this grant is doing is freeing us up to do a little bit more sooner so that we have the return to really get going,” said Marie.
Making their own products allows them to respond quicker to market changes.