In 2021 Berkshire Agricultural Ventures established the Local Meat Processing Support Program to improve processing bottlenecks for livestock farmers in the Berkshire-Taconic Region, support livestock producer viability, and increase the availability of local meat products for consumers. To build on this work Berkshire Agricultural Ventures will hold a series of workshops focused on increasing meat processing literacy for livestock farmers and to inform processors about tools they can utilize to enable them to provide improved services to those farmers. The series of workshops and panel discussion will focus on 4 key areas of risk management: whole carcass utilization and direct to consumer marketing; meat processing regulation and compliance; cost analysis and pricing strategies; and inventory management tools and technology for processors and livestock farmers. The primary audience for these workshops will be livestock farmers and meat processors in the Berkshire-Taconic Region. The outcomes will be that livestock farmers will be more informed and have access to more tools allowing them to make strategic decisions to improve their business and processors will be more informed about the tools they can utilize to increase their efficiencies and improve their customer service
resulting in a more resilient local meat processing system.
The food system includes a diverse group of food suppliers from economies of scale to local farmers. Direct marketing farmers provide stability for local consumers. Addressing challenges farmers face improves long term viability of the farmer and food system. Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is supporting processors scaling up which will lessen the harvesting appointment problems. Busy farmers face pricing challenges with many pricing with the local economy of scale, neighboring farmers or undercutting both. Neither option achieves long term farm viability. This project will address properly pricing meat cuts and a better marketing mindset for profit and long-term farmer viability.
Pennsylvania farmers will have expanded use of MeatSuite’s Cornell Meat Pricing Calculator. The program automatically calculates accurate meat cut prices and saves farmer inputs for future use. 75 farmers will participate in trainings on the calculators use. 50 farmers will utilize the calculator and 45 will improve meat prices. Charlotte Smith, 3 Cow Marketing LLC will coach 75 farmers on improving their mindset, increasing farmer confidence to make necessary price increases as well as improve customer relationships. 40 farmers will increase direct marketed meat profits, improving farm viability and also resulting in long term sustainability of meat processors throughout Pennsylvania.
New York farmers risk losing market opportunities and other negative financial implications when they cannot access timely meat processing. Recent pandemic conditions, commodity price fluctuations, supply chain disruptions, and national meat shortages evidenced this and resulted in increased consumer demand for local meat leaving farms and processors scrambling to service direct markets. In response, government programs funded upgrades and expansion at many meat- processing facilities, creating a need for more throughput. This project proposes to train both producers and processors to manage risks in the meat supply chain with a comprehensive approach. Specifically, we will (1) Develop a new online processor directory, on which processors advertise services and farmers locate timely processing; (2) Offer HAACP training for processors and employees, addressing workforce training and food safety topics, (3) Offer price- to-market trainings to help farmers manage risks, access direct market channels, and prepare for successful processing arrangements, and (4) Develop new, and share existing, online resources to support all project components. Resources include MeatSuite.com, the Cornell Meat Price Calculator, the Price Reporting Platform, cut sheet templates, and videos. The project team will develop skills and grow markets for 350 meat producers, processors, and their employees. Trainings, resources, and videos will be posted to MeatSuite.com.