Contributed by Karin Desveaux-Potters, Gastronomy Cluster, Economic Development Office, Prince Edward County Ontario
Farming is a difficult, often unreliable business and because of that, farmers are some of the best innovators out there. It is rare to find a farm with a single revenue source; more often than not farmers tend to have off-farm jobs or several revenue streams within their overall operations to make the whole thing work. Dairy farming is no exception.
In 2010, the Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) piloted a project that encouraged and assisted dairy farms to add “on-farm processing” into their sales mix called “Project Farmgate“. Under this pilot project, select farms were assisted with market development support and staff resources to liaise with the provincial ministry for plant approvals in the pasteurization and processing of fluid milk, cheese and butter.
There is clearly a market for dairy products processed on-farm; buying cheese, butter or milk on the farm it was made at is pretty much the ultimate local-food sourcing experience. With the current artisan food trends that focus on small batch, handcrafted products including artisan cheese, the timing couldn’t be better. The success of the pilot program was recognized at the DFO’s annual general meeting this past week when the organization opted to support on-farm processing in their current strategic plan. This is excellent news for existing dairy farms who want to transition into value-add opportunities such as farm gate sales of cheese, butter and fluid milk.
Dairy farms interested in the on-farm processing opportunity should contact the DFO for more information.