NCDA&CS seeking small farmstead dairy for pasteurizer loan progra
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Agribusiness Development Section is looking for a small dairy in North Carolina interested in starting or expanding its farmstead operation.
Farmstead dairies process milk produced on their farm into value-added products such as cheese. The milk may come from goats or cattle. NCDA&CS received grant money from the N.C. Agricultural Advancement Consortium and U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase a small-batch pasteurizer that will be available to the most qualified applicant for one year at no charge.
"We have encouraged farmers to look at value-added opportunities to improve their bottom lines, and this program helps farmers with a good business plan get started without having to initially invest in a pasteurizer," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "We have been able to help four dairies become established agribusinesses since starting this loan program."
Currently, there are 14 farmstead dairy operations across the state.
Applications to participate in the project are due by Feb. 16, and project administrators hope to identify a participant by Feb. 28. The dairy will be selected on a competitive basis using the following criteria:
- Business readiness of the applicant;
- Experience in the dairy industry;
- Viability of the business plan;
- Knowledge of value-added dairy production;
- Suitability of available pasteurizer to the planned production;
- Personal investment of time and money in the value-added venture.
The selected recipient must agree to allow officials from the NCDA&CS to review the business' books to track the profitability of the operation using the supplied equipment. The farmstead receiving the equipment must also post a $1,500 refundable deposit against the value of the pasteurizer, and must agree to abide by all laws and regulations pertaining to production and marketing of the value-added dairy products.
"Our Food and Drug Protection Division will help monitor the program and work with the recipient through the process," Troxler said.
Complete rules and information are available from Ron Fish, assistant director of marketing, NCDA&CS, 1020 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699. He may also be reached at (919) 733-7887, ext. 219, or firstname.lastname@example.org.