Friday, September 23, 2016

Dairy Value Chain - Participants in the System

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.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Farmer and the Cheese - Introduction

Once upon a dream my friend Chanda Lindsey said that she had a dream. In this dream she read a book I wrote called The Farmer and the Cheese. She said that in this book the parts that talked about Claire had a smaller font than the rest of the book. I will dedicate this blog and maybe that book to her.


I started graduate school in the Fall of 2014. The plan was to finish a Masters of Regional Planning. To promote the program, Dr. Mark Hamin said that I should use this as a period of reflection. For a while, I did not see that. With this blog, I plan to remedy that and use this blog as both a period of reflection and as a way to satisfy this requirement to do a dairy value chain assessment in the Pioneer Valley. The purpose of the later is to look at activities that are a bottleneck or a benefit to see what can provide an economic advantage to dairy farmers in our region.

A three-legged Milk Stool
When I refer to the three-legged stool, it is to discuss the core-meaning and values of the term "sustainable." Today this is a diluted term, but I will use the three legs or pillars of sustainability (economic development, environmental conservation, and social justice) as I consider all of my posts.

The concept of "sustainable" or "sustainability" comes from the "Brundtland Report" or "Our Common Future." They are one and the same. Published in 1987 by the United Nations Wold Commission on Environment and Development (CWCED). This was the first time that the environment and development were firmly placed together in policy as a single issue. Like the word "Natural" this is a diluted term, but I hope to bring some meaning back to this term.

I encourage meaningful comments and discussion. I will speak from my experience and my research. I admit that I am not always "right" and will discuss controversial topics. Please share wide and let me know what you think!