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Milk to Cheese Assessment

In the fall of 2021, the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC) engaged Karen Karp & Partners (KK&P)—a food systems and economic development consultancy with deep experience working throughout the Northeast and in the dairy sector—to engage small-scale dairy farmers in southern Vermont and central-western Massachusetts who might be interested supplying raw milk directly to specialty cheesemakers in order to understand the specific conditions under which they would be able to engage in these types of localized and direct business relationships, and to diversify and strengthen their array of income streams outside of commodity milk markets in the process. NE-DBIC additionally tasked KK&P with interviewing cohorts of specialty cheesemakers and interested dairy farmers within the identified study region in order to set the stage for NE-DBIC to tangibly and expeditiously connect suitable and interested dairy producers directly to specific specialty cheesemakers.

This report contains detailed descriptions of the research methodologies used over the course of this project, findings uncovered during the surveying and interview processes, recommendations to support and facilitate secure business relationships between specialty cheesemakers and small-scale dairy farmers at the local scale, as well as an inventory of the tools used to complete the needed research.