The Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA), a partnership between the Center for Dairy Research (CDR) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Madison, Wis.-based Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA), announced the 13 companies and cooperatives that, via a competitive review process, were selected to receive grants totaling $230,000.
“Competition for grant dollars was strong, with 77 applications requesting more than $1.5 million in support,” said John Umhoefer, WCMA executive director. “We’ve selected innovative, distinctive projects which will add value to the dairy industry from farm to vat — and we look forward to funding even more projects in the years to come.”
The organizations said the 2020 DBIA grant recipients include:
- Bennett Valley Cheese, Gilmanton, Wis. Award: $16,489. Project summary: Bennett Valley Cheese is building an artisan cheese plant and on-site storefront near a small Jersey dairy farm where it is sourcing its milk. It will make cheese curds for sale in its store, as well as in local restaurants, taverns and convenience stores.
- Carr Valley Cheese Co., La Valle, Wis. Award: $16,489. Project summary: Carr Valley Cheese Co. is an established fourth-generation artisan cheese company purchasing equipment and designing a production area to create a new product line of flavored pasteurized cheese using local sheep's milk. This endeavor will also create new jobs in the company's Fennimore, Wis., processing facility.
- Country View Dairy LLC, Hawkeye, Iowa. Award: $20,000. Project summary: In response to COVID-19, Country View Dairy LLC, a small farmstead, family-operated dairy plant, developed individual-serving frozen yogurt treats that are sold at retail stores and from food trucks. It plans to expand production, sales and distribution of its frozen yogurt treats through new cooperative agreements with partners and will purchase a delivery cooler and design and purchase branded packaging.
- Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Waterloo, Wis. Award: $12,500. Project summary: Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese will install an innovative water-use-and-circulation system that uses less water to initially cool cheese and uses recirculated cold water and cold air to finish the cooling process to save money and resources.
- Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Ellsworth, Wis. Award: $16,489. Project summary: Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery plans to research and develop a new shelf-stable dairy product to diversify its value-added offerings for export markets.
- Farm Life Creamery LLC, Ethan, S.D. Award: $16,514. Project summary: Farm Life Creamery will use grant monies to purchase and install a vertical cheese press and manual cutter that will support an expansion of its product line, expand cheese sales volume and allow manufacture of a new ethnic cheese type.
- Marcoot Jersey Creamery, Greenville, Ill. Award: $20,000. Project summary: Marcoot Jersey Creamery, a seventh-generation family-farm creamery, will purchase new equipment needed for using the whey from making cheese to produce a new high-protein frozen sports-recovery product.
- McCluskey Brothers, Hillpoint, Wis. Award: $15,031. Project summary: McCluskey Brothers will purchase and install equipment to produce and package a new value-added dairy product — shredded cheese from its grass-fed herd — in its farmstead cheese plant and custom cheese conversion facility.
- Metz's Hart-Land Creamery LLC, Rushford, Minn. Award: $20,000. Project summary: Metz’s Hart-Land Creamery will use the grant to purchase a new cheese vat so it can expand its cheese curd production and sales to meet growing markets.
- Redhead Creamery LLC, Brooten, Minn. Award: $20,000. Project summary: In response to the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent loss of markets for cheese, Redhead Creamery began working with area cheesemakers to comingle Minnesota-made cheeses for direct distribution, with hopes to someday help area makers form full pallets to export at a lower cost to outside the Midwest. Redhead Creamery will use the grant monies to update its facilities with construction of storage space, a cheese cave and a covered concrete delivery ramp, as well as to purchase a larger cooler.
- Royal Guernsey Creamery LLC, Columbus, Wis. Award: $20,000. Project summary: Gurn-Z Meadow Farm, a seventh-generation dairy farm, will diversify its business as it launches a new processing venture, Royal Guernsey Creamery, making butter with milk from the farm at nearby Sassy Cow Creamery.
- Taste and See Creamery, Boyceville, Wis. Award: $20,000. Project summary: Taste and See Creamery will use grant monies to purchase a vat pasteurizer for the new on-farm creamery it is building on its grass-fed grazing dairy farm. Taste and See Creamery also plans to host tour groups.
- Yodelay Yogurt LLC, Madison, Wis. Award: $16,489. Project summary: Yodelay Yogurt will design and build a custom case packer, eliminating the need for hand-making boxes. This change will accommodate business growth, as demand for the company’s value-added yogurt continues to increase.
DBIA said it encompasses the dairy industry in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, seeking to support farms and processors that are innovating with new products, technology and niches to grow the industry and keep the farm community strong.
“Congratulations [to] all the grant recipients, and we are happy to see winners from each of the states within the DBIA region,” said Dr. John Lucey, CDR director. “We encourage applicants not awarded grants in 2020 to apply again in spring 2021, when DBIA will make its next round of awards.”
In the next funding period, running through 2023, DBIA will distribute more than $3.4 million in grants to dairy farm and processing businesses, in potential increments between $5,000 and $250,000. DBIA said it will also provide funding across market research, product development, training workshops and consultative services to industry. Program support comes from the USDA.
Current and future announcements regarding DBIA grants and trainings can be found at https://turbo.cdr.wisc.edu/dairy-business-innovation-alliance and www.WisCheeseMakers.org.