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Hinchey visits value added farm in Bethel

Bob Franklin displays a half gallon of milk bottled in his modest bottling plant.

By Fritz Mayer
March 24, 2011

At a time when dairy farms are closing down at a record pace, Bob Franklin, who owns Pelleh Farm on Happy Avenue in the Town of Bethel, is expanding his dairy operation. He recently installed a small bottling plant and now sells up to 500 gallons of organic, kosher milk every week. He sells to grocery stores in the region, and to the people who stop by the farm to get their supply. He’s aiming to sell about 1,200 bottles per week, and to expand into other products, such as yogurt and cheese.

Franklin’s farm, which has 32 employees, has been successful because he has tried things that others might not have. His chicken operation, in which his employees process about 4,000 chickens per week, uses home delivery to reach his customers. His two refrigerator trucks make forays as far away as Brooklyn to deliver the poultry.

On March 18, Congressman Maurice Hinchey paid a visit to the sprawling operation. “Small family farmers work harder than anybody,” said Hinchey. “It’s not just about raising livestock and crops, but more and more often it’s also about running a small business designed to add value to agricultural products and move them to markets. Bob Franklin is a perfect example.

His operation is entrepreneurial and successful, and it’s something I think we can help encourage. Sullivan County has always had a strong farming community, and I hope to learn more about what we can do to help it grow and prosper.”
As Congress begins debate over the next Farm Bill, Hinchey says there are several provisions that can be included to help area farmers, including provisions to provide better access to capital and address the dairy crisis.

Hinchey also expressed his support for efforts to obtain a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business Enterprise Grant that would help build a small processing facility for Sullivan County dairy farmers.

Hinchey has also been instrumental in development of a red meat facility in Liberty. He secured an $800,000 federal investment to allow for the construction of the Southern Catskills Red Meat Processing Facility.