Ninety days ago, Carilynn and Curtis Coombs got some unwelcome news.
The Smithfield, Kentucky, dairy farmers were losing their contract with Dean Foods. It came as a shock to the couple, the third generation working on Jericho Acres Dairy, which has been in the family for more than half a century. It's a small farm, but the foundation for some big dreams.
"It was all about continuing the family business, doing continuous improvements to our facilities, growing our herd to include better genetics, better cows," said Carilynn.
Those dreams were disrupted by the letter from Dean Foods, which buys all their milk.
It read in part: "While we greatly appreciate all your hard work and the milk you have provided to Dean Foods throughout the years, I regret to notify you we must cease purchasing milk from your dairy farm. Our agreement will end in 90 days."
More than 100 farmers in eight states got the same letter. Competition, market conditions and shrinking sales of milk are having a big impact on farmers like the Coombs family.
For its own part, Dean Foods says competition is partly to blame.
"First and foremost, a retailer's new class one fluid processing plant is coming online in the region, significantly decreasing our production as milk volume is moved from our facility to this new plant," the letter said.