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USDA offers over $100M for dairy businessesUSDA offers over $100M for dairy businesses

Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives offer federal funding boost to expand and make on-farm improvements.

Jacqui Fatka

June 21, 2022

4 Min Read
Moffitt Baldwin Cheese funding.jpg
SAY CHEESE: USDA Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt (left) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., visited Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association member Crave Brothers Cheese June 20 to announce an additional $20M to expand the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance. AMS Twitter

USDA announced $80 million in awards to support processing capacity expansion, on-farm improvements, and technical assistance services to producers under the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives. The funds are being awarded noncompetitively to the four current DBI Initiatives at the California State University Fresno, the University of Tennessee, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets and the University of Wisconsin.

Additionally, USDA is announcing the availability of $22.9 million through a Request for Applications for funding provided by FY 2022 appropriations to support these same DBI Initiatives. The awards were made possible by supplemental funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, and the newly-announced RFA will provide funding available through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022.

“The Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives have proven to be an invaluable resource for dairy farmers and businesses because of their ability to provide targeted resources and funding through subawards at the local and regional level, maximizing impact,” says USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt.

“As we celebrate National Dairy Month this June, USDA continues to look for ways to support America’s dairy industry, especially amidst ongoing supply chain and food system challenges,” Moffitt adds. “With this additional funding, the four DBIs are receiving a significant increase in resources, enabling each to continue facilitating the development of critical relationships with local dairy producers and processors to support their on-the-ground needs."

Moffitt joined U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., in Waterloo, Wisconsin to meet with dairy businesses on June 20. 

“Wisconsin’s dairy businesses are a key driver of our state’s economy and with all the challenges they face I’m working to do everything I can to help,” says Baldwin. “This federal funding from USDA will help Wisconsin dairy businesses modernize, reach new markets and create economic growth. The Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives provide our farmers, cheesemakers, and dairy processors with the tools they need to innovate and develop new Made in Wisconsin dairy products.”

Expanding into further into Midwest

The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association and the Center for Dairy Research welcomed USDA’s direction of $20 million in American Rescue Plan Act monies to supplement the work of the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance, where Moffitt and Baldwin spoke to WCMA member Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese in Waterloo, Wisconsin on Monday.

The additional $20 million in DBIA funding will support an expansion of the program’s service area to include Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio. Currently, the program covers Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Dairy businesses in the broadened service area will also see a boost in direct-to-business grant funding available through DBIA. Successful grant applicants for the Dairy Business Builder grant will now be eligible to receive up to $100,000 each to support business-boosting projects. The Dairy Industry Impact grant will offer up to $500,000 per award to fund innovative projects with a broad impact.

ARPA funds will also be used to launch new dairy research projects focused on the creation of value-added products at the newly renovated Center for Dairy Research, and to support an innovative mentorship program engaging long-time dairy business leaders and cheesemakers to support entrepreneurship in the industry.

“We are thrilled to build on the impact of the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance, strengthening dairy farms and processors and rural communities,” said John Umhoefer, WCMA executive director.

“This critical investment in dairy innovation allows us to expand our DBIA grants and support programs to 11 Midwest states that produce over a third of all U.S. milk production,” adds John Lucey, CDR director. “This funding also provides key investments in critical research and emerging opportunities, such as biofermentation of dairy residues.”

Since its inception, DBIA has administered over $3.7 million in 79 grants to dairy farms and businesses, conducted market research and product development projects, and delivered direct technical assistance to Midwestern dairy farmers and processors.

Since its inception in 2019, nationwide DBI initiatives have provided valuable technical assistance and sub-grants to dairy farmers and businesses across their regions, supporting them with business plan development, marketing and branding, as well as increasing access to innovative production and processing techniques to support the development of value-added products.


About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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