Manlius When Side Hill first opened its doors in the plaza behind Sno Top last July, there were three employees and a lot of meat — and that was about it. But over the last year, it has expanded to include almost a dozen employees and numerous varieties of meats, vegetables and prepared foods. And now, thanks to a nearly $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the co-op can expand even more.
The USDA announced Aug. 19 that it was investing $25 million through its Rural Development's Value-Added Producer Grant program to help 247 agricultural producers nationwide grow their businesses by turning raw commodities into value-added products, expanding marketing opportunities and developing new uses for existing products. The funding was included in the 2014 Farm Bill.
For Side Hill Farmers Cooperative in Manlius, this investment equals $199,426, which the co-op will use to expand consumer awareness of Side Hill Farmers Cooperative branded beef and pork products, which are marketed through the co-op’s retail store, according to the USDA.
Side Hill offers beef, pork, poultry and lamb in addition to prepared dishes, such as soups, slaws and sandwiches and a small grocery market, comprised of foods filled by local farmers, many of whom live in Madison County.
“This is great news for … Side Hill Farmer’s Cooperative,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee. “We need our farmers to thrive if we’re going to have a strong and growing economy in New York. These federal grants will help ensure that our small farms and independent producers have the resources they need to bring their products to market and continue to drive economic growth in their region and across the state.”
Side Hill Farmer’s Cooperative is not the only local business to benefit from the USDA grant. In Cazenovia, Empire Brewing Co.’s farmstead brewery— slated to open in spring 2015 — received a federal boost to its ongoing creation with its own $200,000 USDA grant. The money will be used toward the brewing, marketing and bottling of the company’s new line of craft beer containing ingredients from its Cazenovia farm, according to the USDA.