In 2013, Cornell launched a new effort to analyze the financial condition of berry farms in the state through a Berry Farm Business Summary. Led by faculty and staff from the Department of Horticulture, and the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, a team of extension educators worked with eight berry farmers across the state to complete farm business summaries.
In addition to the business summary, an enterprise budget was developed based on input costs and labor costs that were broken down by tasks in typical berry production system for New York. Members of the New York State Berry Growers Association then verified the assumptions in the enterprise budgets. Each budget includes cost of production expenses for the pre-plant year, establishment year, and an early production year. Not surprisingly, labor was the most costly component of production expenses, as illustrated by the production year where labor for wholesale or retail berries was 80% of the total expenses. Using information from the business summary, this is also an area that showed differences between the 2 relatively larger farms and the other six farms in the completed analysis. On the 6 farms the average worker could cover 3.44 acres, and when the two other farms are added the average worker handled 4.48 acres. Using data from the 2012 NYS Berry Pricing Survey, and the expenses from the enterprise budget, a breakeven analysis was developed based on different yield and price assumptions. Growers need additional information and education to improve profitability.