In early August, Glynwood hosted 30 livestock producers, extension agents and other industry stakeholders for an in-person livestock picnic. The gathering was an opportunity for the Hudson Valley Livestock Producers Group–founded by Glynwood in 2020–to break bread, reflect upon the season, share ideas, and discuss the preliminary findings of the USDA Regional Food Systems Partnership (RFSP) grant, which Glynwood and Cornell Cooperative Extension began working on in early 2022.
One of the first projects of the RFSP grant was to disseminate a survey to livestock producers in the Hudson Valley and western Connecticut to assess the current status of the industry: What are current production numbers across different species? How difficult is recruitment and retention of farm labor? What sales channels are producers currently using and which do they want to explore in the future? Where are producers getting their animals processed? And finally, what learning opportunities would producers be most excited about, whether breeding improvement, pasture management, or diversity, equity and inclusion in the industry?
Survey responses were collected through mid-spring, and preliminary data analysis began in July. It was exciting to share results in-person at the picnic and to identify next steps to prioritize, whether organizing a winter workshop on inventory management practices or reaching out to university agricultural departments to channel more qualified labor into the Hudson Valley.
After discussing survey data, the Livestock Producer Group brainstormed other topics of interest or concern. From hot dog processing to livestock guardian dog breeds, artificial insemination classes to co-packing opportunities, the group had a robust range of ideas and was eager to connect with fellow farmers after months of full-time, often solitary farming.
After nearly two years of virtual communication, it was invigorating to have such a large group of passionate and ground-breaking livestock industry stakeholders in one space. We look forward to organizing and hosting future gatherings, and to continue to support a critical industry through this grant and regional network.