WATERSHED AGRICULTURAL COUNCIL (WAC) - MICRO GRANTS AVAILABLE

PURPOSE: Encourage the implementation of activities that can enhance the economic viability of farm and forest businesses.

ELIGIBILITY: Any farmer, logger, forester, forest landowner or Pure Catskills member with business property inside the West of Hudson NYC Watershed, preference will be given to WAC participants.

CATEGORIES: Training Reimbursement, Marketing Reimbursement, Event/Mileage Reimbursement and Staffing Reimbursement. 

Click below to view the application requirements and to download the application or call Kristan Morley for more information at 607-865-7090.

Click here for more information.

American Farmland Trust - Farmer Microgrants

Farmer Microgrants of up to $2,500 are now available to support farmers in hiring professional advisor services to secure access to farmland, develop or implement farmland transfer plans or conserve their farms for agricultural use. Applications, submitted to American Farmland Trust, will be accepted on a rolling basis until available funds are expended. All services supported by the grant must be completed by December 31, 2019. For questions about the microgrants or to request an application, please contact Tim Biello at tbiello@farmland.org.

The State of the Specialty Food Industry

CADE staff attended the Specialty Food Association’s Fancy Food Show in June 2019 to make market connections for farmers and learn more about the latest food trends. “Specialty food” is the catchall phrase the association and its conference use to describe any innovative, non-commodity foods and what farmers often call “added value.”

The event showcased the latest products available on the market. Most of these products were new, healthy snacks and beverages since more and more American consumers are eating on-the-go. Many of these healthy snacks were made with fresh ingredients and while baked cheese crackers, hops-infused tea and all sorts of meat and mushroom jerkys were showcased, the focus of most of the hot new items at the show had ingredients sourced from warmer climates than central New York: coconut, moringa, almonds and more.

The Special Food Association prepared a State of the Special Food Industry report which they presented at the show as well. Here are the 7 key insights from their report:

1.     Plant-based milks and meats are strongly favored. The report estimates that the retail market for plant-based specialty items grew 24% from 2016 to 2018 and this means consumers are making a choice for the impossible burger and oat milk over grass-fed beef and organic milk.

2.     Specialty beverages are increasingly a force in the market. The $11.8 billion beverage industry grew faster than food from 2016 to 2018. Water and sparkling water lead the pack of what specialty food consumers report they purchase most often and are among beverages that the report forecasts growing over the next five years.

3.     Younger consumers don’t look to supermarkets for quick meals. The overall rise in food service spending is putting pressure on supermarket spending. While consumers across the board increasingly favor quick and single-serve items, millennials and Generation Z are not purchasing these products at their local grocery store as much as they could.

4.     Reducing packaging and food waste are hot points. Retailers that outwardly emphasize recycling or reduced packaging resonate with 33% of all consumers surveyed, slightly higher than the concept of food waste reduction.

5.     The convenience store channel is an under-tapped market for specialty items. Bodegas and gas station haven’t yet gotten savvy when it comes to sourcing specialty products. These stores tend to focus on impulse purchases and have yet to offer many clean label or healthy snack alternatives, but there is a lot of room for opportunity.

6.     Foodservice needs to move to greater customization. Customization at restaurants is popular and expected among all consumers today. While some dietary restrictions are common, a cultural move is taking place toward greater customer control. The more foodservice can promote customization, the more likely their sales will grow.

7.     Opportunity lies in breakfast. Breakfast has emerged as a growing opportunity, especially with Generation X and men. Prepared and packaged foods that address this desire could open sales.

 

What should we make of all of this? As you are preparing products for your farm store, farmers market, CSA or wholesale outlets over the next year, think about if any of these trends apply to you. Are you a meat producer who could be offering ready-to-eat sandwiches alongside your premium cuts at the farmers market? Are you a cheesemaker that may want to dabble in making dehydrated cheese-based crackers or a whey-based soda? Is there a convenience store in your town that is in desperate need of some fresh, healthy products? Use these market trends as inspiration as you explore product development or taking on new customers.

It is also important for us to remember that these food trends are not purely born of consumer demand. Media shapes what people desire and you should in no way think of these trends as set in stone. Take the growing “opportunity” for plant-based milk and meat products. Part of the growth in this sector is due to very strong lobby groups that are working hard to get these new products integrated into our FDA food pyramid and institutions so that they sustain their businesses. And while these new products are taking sales directly away from dairy and meat producers, there is an opportunity right now to counter the plant-based food industry’s narrative with your own story. If anything, these food trend should inspire all dairy and meat producers to think about why they stand behind the health and environmental benefits of the food they produce and find better ways to communicate this to consumers and the media. All in all, consumer trends reveal how and when an innovative product on the market has staying power, which is just as much a function of a producer being good at promoting his or her own products as it is a result of some new, innate consumer desire.  

 


Communication Survey: Results Are In!

We had a great response to last month’s survey, which asked about how you communicate with customers for your farm/food business. We’re interested in this subject because we know how time-consuming (and mission-critical) customer communications can be.

Not surprisingly, we found that face-to-face communication is still the most important way these businesses stay in touch; but more than half of respondents say that email is very important. Phone communication is also very important for almost half of respondents. Facebook and Instagram are both very important for more than a third of these businesses, and interestingly, texting is very important for almost one third.

Despite how important email is for our respondents, only a few use a dedicated mailing list management software like Mailchimp or Constant Contact.

We did a little research ourselves and found these links about email marketing for farms that you may want to explore:

https://smallfarmnation.com/email-list-building-101-farmers
https://cropolis.co/blog/improve-farm-marketing-email
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVGQDZrG1Kc

(Please note that these links may include commercial offerings - we’re not endorsing those, but we’ve reviewed the information provided and found it useful)

About one third of respondents are very satisfied with their business communications, but almost two-thirds are looking for ways to improve in this area. None of our respondents felt that communications is “not that important” for their business!

The answers to this survey lead us to more questions - for example, to what extent specific tools are used to conduct business transactions (e.g. placing orders) vs. branding and awareness. Those are questions for another day, but the results from this initial survey help us understand your needs and develop programming and resources that we know will be of value to you.

Meet New York farmstead cheesemakers at the 5th Annual Little Falls Cheese Festival!

The Little Falls Cheese Festival is your rare opportunity to meet farmers who are making artisanal cheese in upstate New York and sample their cheeses. These dairy farmers work hard every day and can rarely take the time to visit shops and restaurants to share samples and discuss sales options.

Please mark your calendars and take a day trip on Saturday, July 13, 2019 for a break from the city, for the beauty of New York's Mohawk Valley, and for New York's historic cheese capital: Little Falls.

The Little Falls Cheese Festival began in 2015 to showcase New York State artisan and farmstead cheesemakers. Last year, the Little Falls Cheese Festival attracted 32 New York State cheesemakers and over 120 different kinds of cheese! We expect more this year.

From 1864 to 1870, Little Falls was the largest cheese market in the world. The amount of cheese produced in this area of New York was at one time three times as great as in any other county in New York State. It was through this market that “Herkimer County Cheese” became world-famous. Do you know what "Herkimer County Cheese" is today?

Please join us and spread the word about this unique opportunity to get to know and support your local dairy farmers and make great connections for your food business!

Free admission and free parking. Service dogs only. Bring a cooler for your perishable purchases.

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CADE's mission is to increase the number and diversity of successful farm enterprises and related businesses in New York. We would love to help any restaurant, store or similar operation with farms and food producers that can offer you a wide selection of quality products. If you are interested in learning more about getting products from upstate New York, please contact Lauren Melodia here.

#MakingConnections Update from CADE

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In the last month, CADE:

  • Prepared and facilitated two local farmstead cheese makers--Painted Goat Creamery and Crosswinds Farm & Creamery--to submit cheeses to the American Cheese Society annual competition to take place in August 2019. Best of luck to our dairy partners!

  • Publicized the 607 CSA both upstate and in NYC through press, social media, and print materials, resulting in a 50% increase in sales from last year. The 607 CSA aggregates products from 18 farms in Otsego, Schoharie, and Delaware Counties and puts it directly in the hands of consumers who value locally-sourced food. Congratulations 607 CSA!

  • Co-sponsored the Southern Tier 8 Agriculture, Food and Beverage Summit on May 23, Binghamton. A big “thank you!” to our partners who were keynote speakers, bringing visibility to the opportunitiesand challenges of agriculture in our region--Ken Jaffe of Slope Farms, Adam Tiberio of Tiberio Custom Meats, and Jason Evans of SUNY Cobleskill.


CADE Collaborates to Reduce the Overuse of Antibiotics in Farming

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Overuse of antibiotics in animals and people is causing the emergence of antibiotic resistant 'superbugs' against which antibiotics are no longer effective.

“We’re facing a worldwide public health crisis where antibiotics are becoming ineffective in treating infections because they are overused in both people and animals,” said CADE Board member and beef farmer Ken Jaffe, M.D. “Our goal is to reduce antibiotic use in people and animals without sacrificing wellbeing, so we can keep these important medicines effective for treating sick people.”

In April 2019, the food purchasers of four Tompkins County School Districts (Dryden, Groton, Ithaca and Trumansburg) in New York’s Southern Tier region took the unprecedented step of requiring vendors that bid on their beef contracts to meet new specifications that reduce on-farm use of antibiotics while promoting animal welfare. This specification uses the market as a tool to incentivize farmers to advance antibiotic stewardship beyond current FDA and USDA regulation.

The new procurement requires bidding vendors to work with farmers who employ on-farm management practices that lower the risk of infection in cattle. It also requires them to identify individual animals that are at high risk of infection, and selectively treat only those individuals rather than administering antibiotics to whole groups.

According to Julia Van Loon, President of Slate Foods who was awarded the Tompkins County School District food bid, “We now purchase cattle from farms committed to treating only those animals at high risk for infection and not administering blanket antibiotics to herds. We applaud Tompkins County for creating a spec that requires prudent antibiotic policies for sourcing beef for their farm-to-school lunch program for 2019-20. It’s nice to know that we were awarded the bid and can help support their values. It’s healthier for people, the planet, and animals alike.”

“We’d like to see school districts throughout New York State — and potentially across the nation — replicate the same food buying policy,” said CADE executive director Phoebe Schreiner. “It will not only have important public health implications for our communities, it will also reward beef producers who use improved antibiotic practices. For those who don’t, it offers a carrot to move in that direction.”

The campaign worked closely in tandem with the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), Cornell’s Master of Public Health Program, the evaluation partner for the CEE Tompkins County Farm-to-School Project, and Tompkins County School officials to set the new policy.

School district food purchasers interested in learning more about how they can replicate the procurement specification can visit CADE’s website at http://www.cadefarms.org/services.

Livestock Foundation's 2019 Mini-Grant Program

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Applications due April 15

$100 - $600 grants available for community for projects that enable the economic viability and historic preservation of Bovina.

Maybe you or your organization could use a couple hundred for paint or a new sign, or maybe you'd like to pay a speaker for a community event or print flyers to promote your organization. Preference will be given to beautification projects as well as to collaborative projects.

 Fill out a short online application here.

Farm Registration Open for Family Farm Day 2019

Once again farmers in Schoharie, Otsego, and Delaware Counties may welcome visitors to their farms during the 7th Annual Family Farm Day (FFD), Saturday, August 24, 2019. FFD is a signature agritourism event that engages farms, restaurants, local ag businesses, tourists, and visitors throughout the tri-county region. Farms eligible to participate have an opportunity to showcase their farm while introducing visitors to diverse, high-quality products that generate farm-gate sales and build long-term customer relationships.

Cornell Cooperative Extension Schoharie and Otsego Counties (CCE) is accepting farm registrations from farms in all three counties through Friday, April 5, 2019. Guidelines, eligibility, and the farm registration are available online at www.familyfarmday.org, or email schoharie@cornell.edu, or call 518.234.4303 (x111) for more information. Farms that participated in previous years may register directly. New comers to this event must contact your respective county coordinator to confirm eligibility prior to registration. Schoharie farms contact David Cox, 518.234.4303 (x119) or dgc23@cornell.edu; Delaware farms contact Mariane Kiraly, 607.865.6531 or mk129@cornell.edu; Otsego farms contact Lyn Weir, 607.547.8886 or lyn@lynweir.com.

 Family Farm Day is a collaborative event produced by CCE Schoharie and Otsego Counties, CCE Delaware County, Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, Schoharie County Tourism, Otsego County Tourism, Delaware County Tourism; Schoharie, Otsego, and Delaware County Farm Bureaus, and Schoharie, Otsego, and Delaware County farms. There also are opportunities for those who wish to sponsor this growing farming community event. If you are interested please contact David Cox, 518.234.4303 (x119) or dgc23@cornell.edu.

 

FSMA/GAP Training Available

Are You Interested in FSMA/GAP Training?

The National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) is offering a 2-day PSR/FDA-approved FSMA + GAP grower training, to be held in Otsego County this spring. They need a minimum of 12 participants. NYFC is subsidizing the cost of the workshop, which would be approximately $40 per person, which includes lunch, a certificate of completion, and a binder of materials. Email Greta at leatherstocking.nyfc@gmail.com if you are interested in signing up.

About the Training:

New York State is investing heavily in the New York State Grown and Certified Program "to strengthen consumer confidence in New York State products, address food product labeling, and assist New York farmers so they can take advantage of the growing demand for local, high quality food". To encourage participation, the state has made available substantial funding to help farmers meet the program's requirements (https://certified.ny.gov/funding-opportunities). .

In order to become NYS Grown and Certified, farmers need to get GAP certification, so the proposed 2-day NYFC training would cover how to write a farm food safety plan, which is required for GAP. NYFC offers trainings across the country to help familiarize farmers with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). As of 2018, all fruit and vegetable producers are subject to Produce Safety Rule (PSR) regulations. All non-exempt farms are required to have at least one owner or managerial staff member on site who has attended an approved FSMA PSR training such as these ones. Even exempt farms are required to keep certain records related to their exemption, which are covered as part of NYFC's trainings. And, regardless of your scale, everyone can benefit from learning about food safety practices on the farm!

Please email leatherstocking.nyfc@gmail.com if you're interested.

CADE: Market Access Services

Are you interested in finding more markets for your farm products but don't know where or how? CADE is embarking on some intensive marketing and sales work on behalf of Catskills farmers and is here to help you! In order to receive these free services, please fill out this quick survey to tell us a little more about your farm. After we've reviewed your survey, we will follow up to schedule a meeting to develop a marketing and sales strategy customized for you and your farm.

No-cost Agriculture Energy Audit Opportunity

The Program offers farms and on-farm producers no-cost energy audits that provide recommendations for energy efficiency measures. Energy audits are important tools to help farmers make the best decisions for their operations and to help them become economically and environmentally sustainable.