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Value-Added Multi-Purpose Processing Establishment using Renewable Energy for Local Foods Distribution Network
Title: Vice President
Phone: (765) 324-2161
Phone: (765) 324-2161
Identification and Significance of the Problem or Opportunity: The meat processing infrastructure is declining and aging across the United States leaving small farms with limited poultry, natural pork, and ruminant processing options. Work to rehabilitate existing but aged processing establishments utilizing energy efficiencies and renewable energy design to increase the profitability is needed. Because current processing options are limited, local distribution systems are rare. Research Question: Can a successful local foods distribution model be replicated in a different area of the country with a processing facility as the centerpiece while utilizing renewable technologies to further enhance the marketability of the differentiated farm products while reducing energy operating costs Work Plan Summary: The work plan consists of two main research objectives. 1. Develop a plan for the revitalization of the aging processing infrastructure utilizing renewable energy systems and energy efficiencies to lighten large energy needs in small scale processing. The majority of small processing establishments were built before 1980 and are declining in number at an alarming rate (Henning, 2007). The processing infrastructure creates a bottleneck in the ability to get farm product to the consumer. Without local processing options the small family farm is no longer viable. Erick Smith, Principal Investigator, is uniquely qualified to work on this research. He brings skills as a professional engineer with a focus on electrical construction and sustainable design with an experience of 17 years in the industry married with a desire to provide local meat options and support the small family farm through his years working to create a viable small family farm to hand down to the next generation. He can not only work to create a lasting plan but disseminate the information collected to help other plant owners. Most often, plants would be owned by meat cutters, not engineers. Phase 1 research showed success in that a plan for revitalization was created, now that plan needs to be implemented and the results tested. 2.The processing facility is the center of an expanded distribution network. For this objective we would test the possibility of replicating a local foods distribution system developed in Kansas City by Diana Endicott, named Good Natured Family Farms. Diana Endicott successfully initiated a local foods distribution network in Kansas City supplying farm products from 100 family farms to Ball Foods, a local grocery chain. Instead of repeating her research, we have developed a consulting relationship with her so that we can utilize her expertise and expand upon her SBIR funded research in Indiana. Jessica Smith will serve as the Farm to Market Coordinator as Diana did in Kansas City. Jessica Smith has the education and background needed to represent the alliance and form marketing relationships. She has the ability through understanding and farm experience to talk to the producer. Through phase 1, we compiled a listing of 20 farms ready to form an alliance of growers to co-market product in Indiana.
* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *