The Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA), Madison, Wis., released dates for all-new industry grants to help Midwest dairy producers and processors diversify, modernize or develop new products.

Coordinated as a partnership between the Center for Dairy Research (CDR) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA), DBIA is available to help dairy-related businesses in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, CDR said.

“This initiative will help support farmstead or small dairy businesses as they explore opportunities to create new value-added dairy products like specialty cheeses; in addition, by providing targeted grants to dairy businesses, it will encourage more entrepreneurial efforts,” said John Lucey, CDR director.

DBIA will be distributing direct-to-business grants totaling $220,000. A grant review committee established by DBIA will review applications and make subsequent awards. Grants will be awarded for projects in increments up to $20,000. The grant application will be available on June 15 on the DBIA website. The application is due Aug. 14, and selected applicants will be notified Sept. 4, CDR said.

“We’re pleased to be guiding investments in the U.S. dairy industry that can boost sales of value-added dairy products domestically and abroad, and–ultimately–increase profitability for family farmers and our dairy processors,” said John Umhoefer, WCMA executive director.

DBIA is a result of the USDA’s Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives in the 2018 Farm Bill. The initiatives support dairy businesses in the development, production, marketing and distribution of dairy products through direct technical assistance and grants to dairy businesses, CDR said.

In 2019, there was a national competition to select all-new innovation centers. In addition to Wisconsin’s DBIA, other centers were selected at the University of Tennessee and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

Here in the Midwest, USDA granted DBIA $440,000 to provide industry training, consultative services and direct-to-business grants over a three-year period, CDR said. DBIA’s goal is to support program participants in achieving three goals: on-farm diversification, the development of value-added dairy products and an increase in the exports of dairy products.

Eligible applications for grants can fall under a variety of categories, CDR said. Examples include:

  • Dairy farm diversification through value-added initiatives, such as development of dairy products or on-farm business ventures.
  • Modernization, specialization or expansion of farmstead or dairy plant facilities to support product development or improvement.
  • Facilitation of increased sales of current product or range of products through quality improvement, packaging and/or marketing.
  • Creation of new revenue streams by developing novel dairy ingredients from by-products.
  • Development of value-added dairy products such as specialty cheese, novel beverages, etc.
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance and quality control through equipment purchases, consulting services, etc.

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