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Muranda Cheese Company: Looking to the Future with Value-Added Products

Libby Eiholzer, Bilingual Dairy
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

June 6, 2014
Muranda Cheese Company: Looking to the Future with Value-Added Products

Milking cows and working hard isn?t always enough to be profitable these days, and an increasing number of dairy farmers are looking to value-added products as a way to increase profitability as well as make room for the next generation on the farm. Cheese is the value added product of choice at Muranda Holsteins.
In 1991 Tom and Nancy Murray bought a small farm with 150 acres in Waterloo, NY. They milked 90 cows, slowly transitioning from grade animals to a registered herd. By 2003, the herd?s genetic value was so high that they had a milking herd dispersal. In the down time that they had until they began milking a full herd again, Tom began researching what it would take to develop and sell a value-added product. On July 4th, 2007, they made their first batch of cheese and Muranda Cheese Company was born.

So what does it take to go from selling milk to selling cheese? You might think that it would be much less work, but that?s now how the Murrays operate. The on-farm tasting room is open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm, but the OPEN flag on the farm sign never comes down. If people take the time to drive to the farm, Tom thinks that making them feel welcome is the least he can do. While 60% of cheese sales are made right on the farm, retail continues to grow. Muranda Cheese Company sells cheese to a number of wineries, restaurants, and bed and breakfasts across the Finger Lakes region.

Tom places a high priority on the personal connection allowed by doing all the company?s marketing. By delivering cheese to all the locations where it?s sold, he?s able to develop a personal relationship with each and every customer. This is certainly good for business, as most of their customers learn about them through word of mouth.

While they considered producing cheese on the farm, they decided to hire a proprietary cheese maker. They currently use three different cheese makers, and while the milk is shipped to the cheese maker to be processed, the cheese comes back to the farm to be aged, cut, and packaged. They recently added two more aging rooms, doubling their capacity. That?s certainly a good thing, as they currently have trouble keeping all 15 cheese varieties in stock!

It?s a Family Thing
. Tom and Nancy?s son Blane, a 2010 graduate of Cornell University, came back to the farm after spending his post- graduation summer learning to ultrasound cows on a dairy in Colorado. He now manages the dairy, which allows Tom time to take care of the cheese side of the business. ?I probably wouldn?t be here without the cheese business,? Blane commented. Renting their land and buying back forages hasn?t been the most profitable business model with high feed prices over the last few years, but cheese has made it profitable. They currently have two part-time employees helping Blane with the cows. Tom has eight part timers helping in the tasting room and with special events, including his wife Nancy and Blane?s fianc?e Mary Clark. Mary, who is employed full time off the farm as a dairy nutritionist, also does the nutrition for the herd.

Always open to the public. While most farms have visitors only on occasion, it?s a daily occurrence at Muranda Holsteins. The day that I stopped by, a Friday afternoon in late June, 130 people had already dropped in to taste or purchase cheese! They average about 50 visitors per weekday and more than 200 per day on the weekend. As the tasting room parking lot is right next to the tiestall, Blane eventually had to put up a rope to keep people from wandering in. He?s happy to offer tours when he?s not busy, but certainly doesn?t want people to wander around unguided.

The young couple brings fresh ideas to the business about how to reach out to the public. They?re active on Facebook, Twitter and Vine, and recently organized a Dairy Day celebration in conjunction with the Finger Lakes Cheese trail, complete with farm tours, educational displays and a chance to get pictures taken with the cows. This group of nine cheese producers organizes events throughout the year to highlight their products and the dairy industry.

Has this article got you craving cheese? Visit Muranda Cheese Company at 3075 State Route 96 South, Waterloo, NY 13165. Order cheese and view upcoming events at their website:











calendar of events

Upcoming Events

Beginning Farmer/Hobby Farmer Workshop $5/pp, class size is limited, so pre-register by April 15th!

April 27, 2019
9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Canandaigua, NY

This hands-on workshop is for beginning or part-time farmers who would like to improve their farm machinery skills, learn to properly and safely maintain their equipment to protect their investment. If you have been thinking about buying a tractor, new or used, two-wheel or four-wheel drive, compact or utility or more come join us. Topics include: selecting the right size/type tractor for the job; basic maintenance; staying safe around tractors and equipment; attaching implements properly; and information about ROPS and SMV's. There will be time for questions.

Pre-registration requested by April 15, 2019 email Amy with your name, address, and phone number or call 585-394-3977 x 429.
Fee: $5.00/person. Class size is limited.

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2019 Pastured Poultry Seminar, lunch included so please register by May 10th! $25/person

May 18, 2019
Registration begins at 8:00 a.m.w/ coffee & donuts with the Program running from 9:00 a.m. - 5 p. m.
Attica, NY

The main speaker this year is Eli Reiff of Mifflinburg Pennsylvania. Eli raises broilers, turkeys, sheep, and beef, all on pasture. Topics to be covered will include the pasture, feed and nutrition, marketing, costs, and much more. As we grow as farm operators and get bigger, we may not pay as much attention to the basics as we should. So those areas are where we will start, and then expand to cover the group's interests.

Mike Badger, Director of the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association will also be available for a round-table discussion. Plans are to have representatives from Farm Bureau, NYCAMH for farm health and safety, Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce, and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County, as well as others.

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Calling all 9th-12th graders! 4th Annual Precision Agriculture Day at Genesee Community College

May 21, 2019
9:00 am - 1:30 pm Register by Friday May 10th! $15/per person includes lunch
Batavia, NY

Calling all 9th-12th graders!  We have an exciting new program for students interested in technology, science, engineering, and agriculture!
Would you like to:
  • Learn about how Drones collect information
  • Check out some potential career opportunities that have new and ever-changing technology
  • Learn how these technologies can be used in our own backyards in WNY
  • Discover potential and exciting career opportunities

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Producers Previously Enrolled in the LGM Program Now Eligible for MPP

Dairy Producers Previously Enrolled in the Livestock Gross Margin Program Now Eligible for 2018 Margin Protection Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that dairy producers who elected to participate in the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy Cattle Program (LGM-Dairy) now have the opportunity to participate in the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) for 2018 coverage. Sign-up will take place March 25 through May 10, 2019.
Eligible producers can enroll during the sign-up period at their local USDA service center. To locate your office, visit

Smart Farming Team Technical Assistance Grant Application

The Labor Ready Farmer Project is offering grants to provide up to 12 hours of Technical Assistance (TA) consulting services to farms who want to make improvements to their farm's processes in hiring, training, managing or evaluating employees. Applicants will choose from one of the following four areas for TA assistance and identify a specific project. If selected they will be matched with a "Smart Farming Team" of consultants who will provide one on one technical assistance.
Please complete this application and send to Nicole Waters, Beginning Farm Project Coordinator for the Cornell Small Farms Program. The form can be submitted by email, mail or in-person at the address listed below. Please feel free to call or email with any questions.

Nicole Waters - Beginning Farmer Project Coordinator
Plant Science Building, Room 15b
Tower Road, Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
Phone: 607-255-9911

Applications accepted on a rolling basis.

USDA Announces January Income over Feed Cost Margin Triggers First 2019 Dairy Sa

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2019 ? The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced this week that the January 2019 income over feed cost margin was $7.99 per hundredweight, triggering the first payment for eligible dairy producers who purchase the appropriate level of coverage under the new but yet-to-be established Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

DMC, which replaces the Margin Protection Program for Dairy, is a voluntary risk management program for dairy producers that was authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. DMC offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced last week that sign up for 
DMC will open by mid-June of this year. At the time of sign up, producers who elect a DMC coverage level between $8.00 and $9.50 would be eligible for a payment for January 2019.

For example, a dairy operation with an established production history of 3 million pounds (30,000 cwt.) that elects the $9.50 coverage level for 50 percent of its production could potentially be eligible to receive $1,887.50 for January.

Sample calculation:
$9.50 - $7.99 margin = $1.51 difference
$1.51 times 50 percent of production times 2,500 cwt. (30,000 cwt./12) = $1,887.50

The calculated annual premium for coverage at $9.50 on 50 percent of a 3-million-pound production history for this example would be $2,250.

Sample calculation:
3,000,000 times 50 percent = 1,500,000/100 = 15,000 cwt. times 0.150 premium fee = $2,250

Operations making a one-time election to participate in DMC through 2023 are eligible to receive a 25 percent discount on their premium for the existing margin coverage rates.

"Congress created the Dairy Margin Coverage program to provide an important financial safety net for dairy producers, helping them weather shifting milk and feed prices," FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. "This program builds on the previous Margin Protection Program for Dairy, carrying forward many of the program upgrades made last year based on feedback from producers. We're working diligently to implement the DMC program and other FSA programs authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill."

Additional details about DMC and other FSA farm bill program changes can be found at

New Guidance for Mortality Disposal Issued

NYS Department of Ag and Markets has posted guidelines on disposal of livestock carcasses, in response to reports that some rendering companies have halted pickups from farms.|1