In order to understand any system, you have to identify who/what is involved, what their needs are, what their motivations are, and what impacts (positive and negative) that they have on the other people/entities in the system. Like an ecosystem, there is a balance that is needed to ensure that all parts function “normally.” In this study, we will divide who/what into Actors and Stakeholders.
A stakeholder is a person/entity that is directly involved in the value-chain. In some cases, these are individual people. In some cases, they are multiple layers of corporations. In some cases, they are groups of people. Stakeholders can also be in multiple places in the value-chain, and their roles/needs shift in each level of this value-chain.
An actor is a person/entity that is not directly in possession of the “produce” in any stage of the value-chain. They offer support to various actors and can influence actors both positively or negatively. They tend to be the group that enables the environment and has the greatest influence on laws, regulations, policies, etc. Just like stakeholders, they can be in multiple places in the value-chain, and their roles/needs shift at each level of the value-chain.
Actors in the Dairy Value-Chain
It is hard to define this as “conventional” or “traditional” or “contemporary,” because those terms have multiple meanings. This is just a general definition of the actors (or people/entities that “posess” milk) at all stages of the dairy value-chain.
Note, I mention that there are individual people and entities. With time, there are fewer individual people and more and more entities that are a part of this process. What does this mean for the Pioneer Valley? How would it compare with, say Madison County New York – where I farmed for 10-years? What are the trends in the northeast in general? Are these shifts seen across the US or in other “dairy” countries?
With consolidation in defferent sectors of food/farming, there are blurrings in lines, but the enterprises and functions are the same, even if ownership is the same. As I stated above, motivations and needs shift as people/enterprises move up or down this value chain. I will outline how some of these are “natural fits” and “not so much” as I progress with this project.