State Funding Assists Livestock Farmers

James L. Seward

May 04, 2009

New York livestock farmers may be moving closer to launching a slaughter and processing facility that will allow them to sell the meat raised on their farms.

The New York Farm Viability Institute recently awarded a $100,000 grant to the Northeast Livestock Processing Service, to help livestock farmers improve profitability through sale of local, farm-raised meats. 

Senator James L. Seward and Assemblymember Peter D. Lopez announced the grant funds at events on May 1 at the SUNY Cobleskill Meat and Fisheries Lab and at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Greene County Agro-Forestry Center.
Senator James L. Seward said. ``this initiative is about giving new life to livestock farmers in our region.’’

``This is a big step towards our goal of not only preserving local farms, but helping farms be more profitable,’’ Seward said.  ``If agriculture is doing well, the upstate economy is doing well.’’ 

Assemblymember Peter D. Lopez asked, ``how do we connect our local growers with our local consumers?’’

He said promoting local food systems is important to upstate New York’s farming and small business health.

``Our communities will be stronger, our food security will be stronger,’’ Lopez said.
The New York Farm Viability Institute is an independent nonprofit group led by farmers that promotes applied research and outreach efforts to help farmers improve profitability.

Since 2005, the Institute has received annual appropriations from the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and the NYS legislature.

The Northeast Livestock Processing Service Company, founded in 2006, is a limited liability company that provides technical assistance and coordinating services to livestock farmers interested in processing meat for sale.  With more than 80 farmer members, the Northeast Livestock Processing Service Company is guided by a farmer board of directors.

``We have an extreme shortage of slaughter facilities nationwide,’’ said David Huse, of Stone Broke Farms in Warnerville, Schoharie County. Huse raises beef cows.

``We have the markets to sell our product.  We can grow some of the best livestock in the nation, here.  But the lack of infrastructure for slaughter is our biggest obstacle,’’ he said.

Carol Clement of Heather Ridge Farm of Preston Hollow in Greene County raises poultry, sheep and pigs.

``Four years ago I was booking slaughter dates before the animals were born.  There is something wrong with that picture,’’ she said.  ``As a livestock producer, I worry about the weather, the price of grain, and the price of fuel, but the processing has been the biggest problem.’’

Started in the capital region, the livestock service company is now working with 87 farmers from 20 counties around New York State.

The Northeast Livestock Processing Service, which has been supported through grants, plans to become self-supporting through fees collected for coordinating farmer services, including setting up livestock processing, and by gathering members’ meat for larger, institutional sales.