Bethel, NY – For the staff of the Sullivan County Division of Planning & Environmental Management and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Sullivan County, Thursday’s celebration of the Bethel Creamery was far more than a ribboncutting – it was the culmination of years of diligent effort.
“The County originally applied for and received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program for $186,500 in 2011 to purchase dairy processing equipment,” recalled Assistant Planning Commissioner Jill Weyer, part of the team which shepherded this project along. “Bethel Creamery responded with a proposal, and we used that to gain an additional $100,000 from the NYS Community Development Block Grant Small Business Program in 2014 to purchase materials, supplies, marketing and working capital. It was a tremendous effort which resulted in a great project for the County.”
“This was a joint undertaking between the County and Cornell Cooperative Extension with the support of numerous departments and agencies,” added Melinda Meddaugh, Ag and Food Systems Program Leader for Cornell and another key part of the team. “The County’s Grants, Attorney and Purchasing offices assisted, as did the Industrial Development Agency, Hudson Valley Agri-Business Development Corporation, Rural Economic Area Partnership Board, and the Sullivan County Farmland Protection Board.”
The Franklin family – Bob, Naomi and son Eli – owns the Creamery and gave tours Thursday, expressing gratitude and appreciation for the concerted, sustained effort to realize their dream. Attendees were treated to samples of the Creamery’s organic kosher yogurt and milk, then saw how those products are produced and bottled by hand and machine. Soon, cheese will join the product line, accompanied by new branding and marketing.
“This project created five new jobs in a rural, agricultural part of Sullivan County, and I’m thrilled with the result of this collaborative initiative to improve a small business,” said District 1 Legislator Scott Samuelson, who represents the Town of Bethel on the Legislature.
“While we’re fortunate to have several large-scale development projects happening in the County, the Creamery’s success stands as an important demonstration of our commitment to ‘the little guy’ and of preserving our agricultural heritage,” affirmed District 4 Legislator Catherine Owens, chair of the Legislature’s Agriculture and Sustainability Policy Committee.
“In concert with the County, Cornell Cooperative Extension offers services and support to farming enterprises throughout the region, from our Farmers Market Promotion Project and ‘Right to Farm’ signage to the Ag Business Expansion & Retention Program and the Revolving Loan Fund Program,” noted Meddaugh. “That includes technical assistance to dairy farms looking to expand into value-added product lines, along with exploring potential funding sources.”
For more information on these services, visit www.sullivancce.org or call the Extension at 845-292-6180 or Planning at 845-807-0527.