Production and Processing
January Production and Processing Working Group Meeting
The January P&P Working Group meeting focused on exploring cooperative models of aggregating farm production, co-chair elections, and firming up a plan for the 2016 workplan.
Three cooperatives models were represented by grass-fed beef, organic dairy, and organic [wholesale] vegetable companies.
Elizabeth Collins of Adirondack Grazers Cooperative (ADK) described their coop as being in early stages of evolution after its formation in 2012. It is focused on working with producers in New York and Vermont and markets primarily into New York City. As a new cooperative, ADK has spent its early years gathering members to build product capacity, setting and refining prices, determining production requirements, and identifying parts of the value chain to focus on (and parts better served through others).
Regina Beidler of CROPP/Organic Valley spoke about their coop, which was formed in 1988 and now includes close to 1800 dairy farms nationally with more coming on in the next few years. As a more established cooperative, CROPP's issues revolved around making sure that the farmers are still core to the mission and that processing capacity is appropriate. Organic Valley is the marketing entity, while CROPP is the cooperative. The marketing entity was formed just a few after the start up of the cooperative.
Tony Risitano of Deep Root Organic Coop (DROC) noted that their thirty-year-old coop is clustered for distribution, but is largely located around northern Vermont and Canada. As production of organic vegetables across the region has "exploded", issues of competition and succession are prominent themes, as well as the federal food safety law.
After the presentations and discussion, the P&P WG held elections. Jenn Colby and Regina Beidler were elected as co-chairs for 2016. The workplan for 2016 was outlined, starting with a focus on relevant indicator data collected through the F2P Network as part of the mid-way point of the Strategic Plan. The group will examine indicators and use them as a basis for identifying goals and themes for future work. A summer meeting might be a partnership with the Land Access and Stewardship working group to share learning about farm transition issues.