USDA announced that the Center for Dairy Research (CDR) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) were awarded $6.13 million to support continuation of the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA), serving Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. DBIA offers industry education, technical support and direct-to-business grants.
“Now more than ever, dairy businesses must work quickly to adapt to changes in consumer demands and market opportunities,” said John Lucey, CDR’s director. “We are pleased to be able to put USDA funds to work, building upon the tremendous interest in the first initiative, to help dairy farmers and processors survive and thrive amid challenging conditions.”
In the next funding period, running through 2023, the DBIA said it will provide funding across market research, product development, training workshops and consultative services to industry. In addition, the DBIA will distribute more than $3.4 million in grants to dairy farm and processing businesses, in potential increments between $5,000-$250,000.
“We’re excited to be able to support investments in great ideas that will boost sales of value-added dairy products, both here and abroad,” said John Umhoefer, WCMA’s executive director. “As sales climb, the dairy industry will grow stronger and more stable, from farm to vat.”
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) authored the bill creating the Dairy Business Innovation Initiative program, successfully shepherding its passage in 2018, the DBIA said. Baldwin helped secure initial funding for DBIA of $450,000 in 2019, and championed expanded funding this year, along with Congressmen Glenn Grothman (R-WI6), Ron Kind (D-WI3), Mark Pocan (D-WI2), Bryan Steil (R-WI1) and state department of agriculture officials.
“Our dairy businesses are a key driver of our state’s economy, but just like many other folks in Wisconsin, they’re facing some tough times right now as a result of the pandemic,” Baldwin said. “Farmers, cheesemakers and dairy processors must have the tools to innovate and develop new Made in Wisconsin dairy products, so they can get through this economic crisis and build a brighter future for our dairy farms and rural communities.”