GREENVILLE, Ill — Nearly 15 years ago, Amy and Beth Marcoot, the seventh generation of the Marcoot dairy farming family, were faced with a decision.
Their parents were considering selling the farm they'd grown up working on. After six generations, dairy farmer John Marcoot saw the writing on the wall — most small dairy farms like his weren't profitable anymore. And many dairy farms sold to larger conglomerates.
Both Amy and Beth, the eldest two of four Marcoot daughters, had left the creamery and gone to school — Amy for her masters in counseling and Beth for her masters in education. The farm was not in their plans. But when the time came, the two didn’t want to give it up.
"We approached my father and asked what we needed to do if we wanted to come back to the farm," Amy, now president of the business, said. "He said, 'I think you have a choice. You either have to become a 1,000-plus cow dairy and do a lot of volume, or you need to do something to add value.' We thought adding value made a whole lot of sense for us — it was the right thing to do for us and for our family."
The Marcoot family can trace its history to 1842 when the "Markut" family first came to America from Switzerland with a jersey calf. Settling in Illinois, the family has been in dairy ever since.
But in 2008 and 2009, Beth and Amy got to work, taking their family's business away from traditional dairy farming for the first time. Their new product: cheese.
After hiring long-time family friend Audie Wall to run the technical side of the cheese production — Wall, now the vice president of manufacturing at the farm, had a background in engineering — Amy and Beth officially opened Marcoot Jersey Creamery in 2010, producing 50,000 pounds of cheese in their first year.
Now, about ten years later, the farm produces 160,000 pounds of cheese every year in 20 different varieties.
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