By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO January 9, 2001 - On Thursday, the Sullivan County Legislatures Planning and Community Development Committee approved a resolution to apply for a $78,000 USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG). The grant will be used to develop a mobile cheesemaking training module, which will visit area farms and illustrate the production of grassland cheeses.
The project was explained by the executive director of the Sullivan-Wawarsing Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP) Zone, Rick Bishop. Its sponsored by Grassland Dairies, an egg and dairy farm in Peekskill that is part of a cheese consortium.
According to Bishop, the process is simple and could be profitable for the farmers involved. Participating farms would make an eight-pound cheese wheel that would be picked up every seven to ten days. From there, the cheese would be processed and stored for approximately six months. Then the module would go to each farm to pick up and store the cheese.
To date, four local farmers have expressed interest in the program. They would participate on a trial basis for about twelve months. If they wished to continue, they would build their own facilities on their land.
Currently, farmers get about $.14 a pound for their milk. This program would raise that price to $.20 per pound, said Bishop. Also, Bishop pointed out, it would add more value to the local milk.
The application will be submitted in the first part of February. Approval or denial would be received within 60 or 90 days. If they get the grant, Bishop will seek out the farmers who might be interested in the program.