Planning, home processing, water testing, meat, dairy, Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship, Small Scale Food Processors Association
Value-added processing can be very simple to extremely complex. Adding value can be something as simple as sorting fruits and vegetables by size and selling through unique packaging to the complexity of processing salsa, jams, jellies, chutney, and meat animals. Value-added processing is a means to utilize produce not used for fresh market sales and the surplus of product during the growing season. Depending on the raw ingredients and the final product there are usually processing regulations that need to be addressed.
When undertaking a new enterprise or making changes in a farm business it is important to do a business plan to test the feasibility of the idea. To be successful in a value-added venture, marketing is critical for success. Business planning provides a framework from which to understand the market and design strategies to compete successfully.
NYS residents can seek a 20-C license exemption from the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets to produce breads, rolls, cookies, cakes, brownies, fudge, and double-crust pies for wholesale and retail agricultural venues such as farms, farm stands, farmers markets, craft fairs, and flea markets. The exemption can also be used for the making of traditional jams, jellies, marmalades made with high acid/low pH fruits, repackaging/blending of spices or herbs, snack items such as popcorn and peanut brittle and candy (excluding chocolate).
The NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Division of Food Safety and Inspection is responsible for food safety inspections and regulations.
Potable water is necessary for any food processing activity. Private water sources (water wells) will need to be tested by a certified laboratory as part of the licensing process. Be certain that the company that you choose can provide you with the service that you are seeking. Some companies will only provide absence or presence results without quantification.
Many consumers are interested in purchasing meat directly from the livestock or poultry producer. Two ways for farmers to realize higher returns for their farm products are to take over some of the traditional roles of middlemen or to shift completely to direct marketing. Meat regulations and their interpretation can be confusing. A Resource Guide to Direct Marketing Livestock and Poultry (revised March 2010) delves into compliance issues based on the marketing channel selected to sell meat products.
Some dairy farmers believe that manufacturing cheese or yogurt from milk produced on the farm is a way to capture more value out of the market place. Getting-Started-in-Small-Scale-Dairy-Processing provides a laundry list of considerations when starting a dairy processing enterprise.
Off-Farm Processing: Suggested First Steps to Entering Direct Sales for Dairy Farmers shows that most farmers made little to no profit when engaging in a processing venture.
One suggestion is that farmers might contract with a nearby processing facility to have products made with milk produced from their farm. The farmer could develop their specialty recipe and label but not do the actual processing.
The Cornell University Dairy Foods Extension program provides information and training programs to the dairy production and processing sector. People processing their milk are required to secure a basic dairy sanitarian’s license.
The Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship (NECFE) (Geneva, NY) provides educational materials and guidance in product process development, product safety evaluation, regulatory compliance, linkages between business assistance and financial sources, referrals to local suppliers, and service providers.
The members of the Small Scale Food Processors Association work together to conduct joint marketing at specialty food shows, provide mentoring to new processors and those considering starting a food processing business, purchase cooperative and advertise together.
The Finger Lakes Food Processing Cluster Initiative is a coordinated effort through the Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies at Rochester Institute of Technology in conjunction with the Economic Development Administration, U. S. Department of Labor, U. S. Small Business Administration, and NYS Pollution Prevention Institute.
Last updated July 26, 2019