Dairy Farm Support

Since 2013 and due to the latest wave of historically low milk prices, CADE has prioritized offering programming to increase the profitability and long-term viability of dairy farms in our region. While CADE strongly believes that dairy farmers’ survival requires the federal government to break up the dairy industry monopolies and restructure the pricing system [link to take action page], CADE’s programming focuses on what we do best: providing technical assistance to farmers looking to enter or expand direct market opportunities. For dairy farmers, this mainly includes transitioning them from producing liquid milk to value-added dairy products, which is an entirely new business venture for most. In doing so, we support the economic development of our region--increasing jobs, sales, exports and more. Currently CADE is working on the following initiatives to support our region’s dairy farmers.

Facilitating Farmer Access to the SUNY Cobleskill Dairy Plant: For the past few years, SUNY Cobleskill has been working hard to secure funding and build a new dairy processing plant on campus. Understanding that this new educational plant can support regional economic development, SUNY Cobleskill has been working closely with CADE to design the physical structure of the plant and its programming so that farmers can use the plant for their own added value dairy production. With funding from the USDA’s Rural Business Development Grant, we are also working with SUNY Cobleskill and a group of farmers to develop a regional brand and product line of added value dairy products to be made at SUNY Cobleskill. The regional brand will allow farmers to market their milk together and build demand in consumer markets cooperatively. Join the CADE mailing list to get updates about this project. We look forward to a ribbon cutting at the SUNY Cobleskill dairy plant in early 2020!

Are you a farmer interested in using the SUNY Cobleskill dairy plant or joining the regional brand? Contact Jim Manning at jim@cadefarms.org or 607-433-2545 to join.

Learn More

Get Involved

  • Join the NE Dairy Crisis List-serv: CADE and NESAWG facilitate a list-serv for farmers and service providers to share ideas and resources as our region’s dairy farmer struggle to stay afloat in the most recent wave of low federal milk prices. Subscribe and join the conversation today, by emailing jim@cadefarms.org with subject line “subscribe dairy crisis.”

Resources for Farmers

 

Are you interested in making your own farmstead dairy products? Here are some great educational resources to help you get started. Join the CADE mailing list to learn about upcoming workshops for dairy farmers.

  • CADE’s Marketing Toolkit: Download a series of worksheets to guide you through selecting the best market channels, practicing your pitch, getting into grocery stores, etc.

  • Determining your dairy product mix: a summary of  numbers on processing, shelf life and market prices.

  • Determine your Break Even Point: 5 quick steps to help you think through what volume of product you would need to produce and sell in order to cover your start-up and operating costs.

  • Label Requirements for Dairy Products: Product label reviews are not required by the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets prior to them being put into the market, but all products sold in New York are subject to review and shall comply. So it is always highly recommended that you have your labels reviewed before sending them to print. There is no cost to submit your label to NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets for review. Download label requirements from NY State Ag & Markets Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services for milk, yogurt, cheese and frozen desserts.

Past Projects

1. Community Creameries Project: More and more dairy farmers are choosing to develop their own added value products to direct market to consumers as the only means of survival in a climate with historically low milk prices. However, while dairy farmers are experts in animal welfare, land management and producing milk with high butterfat and protein levels, they often know little about turning milk into other products like yogurt, cheese and ice cream. CADE launched the Community Creameries Project to facilitate dairy farmers teaching each other. CADE purchased equipment to help 3 existing farmstead creameries expand their product lines. In exchange, these creameries – Cowbella, Painted Goat, and Stone and Thistle – hosted workshops for farmers to learn how to make added value dairy products and provided dairy farmers the opportunity to participate in hands-on apprenticeships as well as use the creameries for their own recipe testing.

2. The Cream of the Crop from Barn to Shop: Value Added Dairy Accessing NYC Markets: In 2014 and with the support of the Community Foundation of South Central New York, CADE embarked on an extensive market research study to better understand and advise dairy farmers on what specific added value product they should develop. Is the yogurt market saturated? Are certain buyers and consumers ready and waiting for specific products? The report resulted in a clear set of recommendations for farmers as well as for government and service agencies to implement in support of dairy farmers looking to enter the added value dairy product market. Those recommendations include:

  • Develop a Regional Brand, Business Plan and Branding Kit: High quality and well designed packaging is one of the greatest factors when retailers choose to stock added value dairy products. Great packaging encourages retailers to stock more than one item from a brand. A regional branding kit is a cost-effective way to expand market reach of current farms processing their own products and to pave the way for the product launch of pooled milk products. The regional brand must have a name, logo and label/packaging templates. Its use must be heavily managed so that new products incorporating it are held to the same standard and complement one another. Ideally, a regional brand would be incorporated as a cooperative or partnership of farmers with an advisory board of chefs and buyers.

  • Assist farmers currently making added value dairy products to increase sales: There are local farmers in our region already producing bottled cow and goat milk, fresh and aged cow and goat cheeses, yogurt, butter, kefir and more. Rather than attempt to compete with these products, the entire dairy community will benefit from helping these farmers increase sales through modifying recipes, redesigning packaging and market matchmaking. CADE recommends that it is more beneficial to work with local farmers to meet the demand rather encourage new on-farm processing initiatives.

  • Hire a product developer to create a product mix of cheeses: The dairy community and a regional brand should hire a cheese maker to develop a line of cheeses for specialty groceries and with an eye on institutional markets. Having an eye on institutional markets means incorporating low-fat items into the product line, such as low-fat string cheese or curds. As much as possible, the cheeses should be packaged at three packaging sizes for home use, institutional use and individual snack packages. Attention and thought should also be given to creating added value for the whey byproduct, like whey butter or Bronost (a Norwegian style dulce de leche made with whey).

  • Continue building relationships with producers and buyers in New York City: There are countless independent grocery stores and cafes as well as large institutional markets and small batch producers in New York City. Our region’s dairy farmers need access to paid marketing staff at every stage of development: from product development to the launch of the product line and beyond.

To receive a copy of the full feasibility study, The Cream of the Crop from Barn to Shop: Value Added Dairy Accessing NYC Markets, contact Jim Manning at jim@cadefarms.org.

 

3. State of Regional Dairy Survey and Report: In 2013, CADE and the volunteer group Milk Not Jails surveyed over 100 dairy farmers in Delaware and Otsego counties to find out their greatest concerns and how CADE might be able to help. Much of our programming since then, was inspired by this initial survey and report. Download the report here.

Image by Robert Kalinagil