Small-Scale Food Processing Association
The New York Small-Scale Processors Association is being developed in response to a need in New York State to recreate infrastructure that has been lost, specifically infrastructure for adding value. A board of directors representing the various regions of the state is putting mentoring programs in place, supporting individual efforts, and enhancing collaboration. Networking is the biggest accomplishment of the project; state agencies, private businesses, and individuals are beginning to participate in local and regional efforts to add value in a way that benefits producers, communities and consumers in New York.
Serve the needs of farmer and other processors.
Give small-scale processors a voice in governmental regulation and policy affecting their businesses.
Share business management, food safety, and marketing skills.
In this project, collaborative relationships are emphasized. The second annual conference (set for April 5 and 6, 2001) will address needs of the members and build the strength of the food processing association. Collaboration with SUNY-Morrisville, which is hosting the conference, will make more connections among farmers, processors, and the college’s developing entrepreneur programs.
The outreach effort is identifying established processors who are willing to share their experience with people interested in startup processing or improving their current operation. Outreach also links those who want a mentor with those willing to serve as one. Both efforts will be strengthened by a full-day workshop for Cooperative Extension in 2001, where agents will learn more about the association and its goals. Extension staff will likely also help identify more ways to collaborate.
Media outreach through Country Folks weekly newspaper, along with events across the state, raise awareness. A Small-Scale Processors Association booth is used at functions where rural development and value-added topics are discussed. The connections being made range from beef processors to marketers of herbal essences. People play the biggest role in making contacts for the mentor program, since more than similar product output is considered when making a mentoring match, and it is important to ask the appropriate questions to identify the need of both parties.
Case study material is gathered as the mentoring partnerships develops—team members review the development of relationships to evaluate and better serve the mentoring program. Journals and financial records are also kept by the mentoree to assess the process, examine economic viability, and monitor quality-of-life changes. This information supports accurate case studies. The coordinators anticipate tracking mentorees for two years after the grant period.
The board of directors is planning the next conference., a quarterly newsletter is being published, and group liability insurance is being offered to members. A collaborative grant has been written for Central New York chapter building, and New York State Ag and Markets has placed members’ products at the Chicago Trade.
Impacts and potential contributions
The Small-Scale Processors Association is organizing regional to improve communication and regional market development. There are also discussions about organizing a cooperative to keep an established meat processor in a particular community. Direct marketing relationships between processors and restaurants are beginning to occur.
Potential contributions include increased economic viability for farmers, new ways of purchasing inputs cooperatively, cooperative marketing, and expanded trade opportunities. Other benefits include improved support for community-based small business, and increase trust in the food system, and a larger percentage of the food dollar staying local.
Reported November 2000
New York State Food Venture Center
New York Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
Sap Bush Hollow Farm
HCR Box 152
Warnerville, NY 12186
Office Phone: 5182342105
Cornell Cooperative Extension, Oneida County
NYS Food Venture Center