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2012 Small Farm Summit

2012 Recommendations for Strategic Investments in New York’s Small Farms

The Cornell Small Farms Program is pleased to announce the release of “2012 Recommendations for Strategic Investments in New York’s Small Farms”. This colorful report details the current top priorities for enhancing the viability of small farms in New York. We thank the 500 farmers, educators, and advocates around the state who participated in our initial online survey to rank emerging opportunities and the 150 who attended the Small Farms Summit, held in February, 2012, to generate specific goals for advancing these opportunities over the next 5 years.  Download the report.

The report can be used in any number of ways — to justify grant proposals, promote rural economic development, stimulate farmer discussion, influence policy-makers or target investment to support the viability of small farms.

Recommendations in the report are intended for anyone serving New York’s small farm sector. This includes educators, researchers, policy makers, producer organizations, non-profits, agricultural service providers, farmers, businesses and community groups.


About the 2012 NY Small Farms Summit

On February 29th, we hosted our 3rd Small Farms Summit, an interactive meeting with an opportunity for all participants to take part in lively discussion, both locally, and across the state. 150 farmers and supporters gathered at 5 locations around New York to evaluate emerging opportunities and prioritize investments to enhance the viability of small farms. Some of the new emerging issues from the audience included: research and extension around agroforestry, including silvopasturing, forest products and alley cropping; enhancing online communities for farmers to exchange ideas, equipment, land; consumer education around small-scale locally produced food; Liasons/educators to convey NYS Agriculture and Markets regulations to farmers.  Download the Agenda


Small Farm Priorities: 2012 Statewide Survey Results

Leading up to the Summit, we asked NY farmers, and those that support them, to fill out a survey to identify emerging opportunities that could enhance viability of small farms in NY. We asked survey participants to take the ‘bird’s eye’ view, and consider how they would prioritize investment not only for their own farm or business, but for their community and colleagues.

We received 573 responses.  92% of respondents were from New York and 59% were farmers, 18% aspiring farmers, 16% educators, and 7 % community members.  The following list includes the complete 16 priorities as ranked by survey respondents.  Click on a priority to access an expanded summary of thoughtful comments and insights provided by survey respondents.

  1. Develop FOOD DISTRIBUTION STRATEGIES (e.g. collaborative marketing, product pooling and trucking, food hubs) to expand small farm access to local and regional markets
  2. DOCUMENT ECONOMIC IMPACT OF SMALL FARMS on their communities to increase investment in and support of small farms
  3. Develop new and/or expand existing LIVESTOCK PROCESSING FACILITIES
  4. Evaluate LIVESTOCK PROCESSING REGULATIONS AND POLICY for impact on small farms
  5. Advocate for GREATER INVESTMENT IN SMALL FARMS SERVICES (i.e. research, extension and education)
  6. Identify ALTERNATIVE FINANCING STRATEGIES accessible to small farms
  7. Develop and promote affordable ENERGY CONSERVATION AND RENEWABLE ENERGY for small farms
  8. Conduct trainings on ALTERNATIVE LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION AND MARKETING STRATEGIES to overcome processing bottlenecks
  9. Evaluate and promote profitable VALUE-ADDED PROCESSING OF MILK (e.g. yogurt, cheese) to expand market opportunities for small dairies
  10. Expand GRAZING EDUCATION AND RESEARCH
  11. Develop strategies to expand on AGRICULTURAL LAND ACCESS
  12. Expand support for SMALL FARMS PRODUCING IN URBAN AREAS
  13. Expand production and processing of LOCAL BIOMASS AND BIOFUELS for small farm
  14. RECRUIT YOUTH, MINORITIES, AND MILITARY VETERANS into farming
  15. Conduct research and education on FOOD SAFETY RISKS of small farms
  16. Identify novel technologies/practices to improve viability of SMALL DAIRY MILK PRODUCTION

Though not ranked among the 16 top priorities, survey respondents provided several other opportunities they considered to be high priority.  View the summary of other priorities here.


Survey Results Sorted by Region

Find out what survey respondents felt were most important in your part of the state! Central NY (.docx) Western NY (.docx) Northern NY (.docx) Downstate (Lower Hudson, NY metro, Long Island) (.docx) Eastern NY (.docx)


Summit in the News

Lancaster Farming:”Summit Identifies Successes, Challenges Facing Small Farms” http://lancasterfarming.com/news/northeedition/Summit-Identifies-Successes–Challenges-Facing-Small-Farms-

Ithaca Journal:  “Small farms seek closer ties to consumers: More shares in farms and even livestock suggested at Cornell Small Farms Summit” http://www.theithacajournal.com/article/20120229/NEWS01/202290369/Small-farms-seek-closer-ties-consumers


Video Clips

Morning session (2hrs, 10 min)

Welcome – Anu Rangarajan, Director- Cornell Small Farm Program 2011 Investments: Supporting Local Markets

  • Becca Jablonski, Dept. of City and Regional Planning, Cornell
  • Matt LeRoux, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins Co.

Dean Katherine Boor- CALS Commitment to Small Farms

A Vision for the Future of Small Farms in NY- Two Farmers’ Perspectives

  • Katie Carpenter, Plato Brook Farm, Arcade, NY
  • Jim Hayes, Sap Bush Hollow Farm, Warnerville, NY

11:30 am         Prioritizing Opportunities to Enhance Viability and Support of Small Farms

Afternoon session (21 minutes)

  • Regional Reports on Opportunities to Enhance Small Farm Viability

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