The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC) selected Karen Karp & Partners (KK&P) of Southold, New York to study the level of interest from dairy farmers located in central and southern Vermont and northern Massachusetts in producing milk specifically for specialty cheese production.
The assessment will include outreach to up to three cheesemakers in Vermont and Massachusetts to identify their criteria for milk suppliers. Information gathered from these cheesemakers will likely include: milk quality, chemical, and technical specifications; flavor profile and cattle breed preferences; required on-farm and transportation related food safety practices; desired farm management procedures, upstream supply and sourcing practices, organic and animal welfare certifications; production volume, frequency of delivery needs and distribution/transportation capacities; as well as pricing and other purchasing relationship considerations.
Following outreach to cheesemakers, KK&P will develop a dairy farmer outreach strategy to develop a cohort of 10-12 dairy farmers to participate in interviews where they will identify challenges, incentives, and economic forces which may impact farmers’ desire and/or ability to participate in the development and expansion of specialty cheesemakers’ fluid milk supply chains. They will also assess interviewees suitability and readiness to supply milk to the engaged cheesemakers in conformity with the technical specifications and preferences that the cheesemakers defined.
Based on the results, KK&P will report on the interest identified from farmers engaged during project outreach, their relative technical and organizational suitability to supply specialty cheesemakers with milk, the ability of interested farmers identified to meet demand for milk amongst specialty cheesemakers both within existing frameworks and future production projections, specific technical support required in order to reach a state of “readiness”, and additional qualitative data as relevant.
The assessment will set the stage for NE-DBIC to help facilitate localized supply-chain relationships within the northeast region’s specialty cheese sector. Results will be made available in Spring 2022.