Production and Processing
March Production and Processing Working Group Meeting
Farm to Plate is at the midpoint of its 10 year tenure and the Production and Processing Working Group decided to look at our goals and the indicators associated with them during the March meeting. Group members were asked to complete a survey prior to the meeting to assist in prioritizing the indicators to be discussed. The following indicators were identified:
- Vermont Net Farm Income has decreased.
- The majority of produce farms sell directly to customers with only a small percentage selling wholesale.
- Dairy farms account for the majority of market value in agricultural production.
- There has been an increase in the number of farms - especially small farms.
- Vermont's primary production is dairy or dairy related.
- Value added manufacturing increased between 2004-2013. Half of that was dairy.
- What types of data is being collected by TA providers?
The substantial presence of dairy as an agricultural driver was identified as a potential vulnerability particularly in the face of low conventional milk prices, some farms going out of business and a lack of an identified successor on many farms. There was discussion on what types of enterprises could conceivably take the place of some dairy that would utilize larger land bases, equipment and farmer know how. Beef was identified as one possibility.
Four goals or focus areas were identified for work going forward:
1. Focus on wholesale markets as a way to help small produce farms scale up from direct marketing only.
2. Focus on vulnerable areas in the dairy community including needs related to farm succession.
3. Look more deeply into net farm income figures particularly related to farm sizes.
4. Consider developing standard indicators that could be collected by technical assistance providers that could provide useful information for work going forward.