On Nov. 11, the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA), Madison, Wis., applauded USDA’s announcement of $20.2 million in support for the Dairy Business Innovation Initiative, including $6.13 million for a program administered by WCMA and the Center for Dairy Research (CDR). That program, called the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA), offers direct-to-business grants, free workshops, consultations, and industry research for dairy farmers and processors in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

“The strength of our agricultural economy, including the dairy industry, depends on strategic investments that help fund innovative projects and tailored technical assistance for producers and processors alike. We thank USDA Secretary Vilsack and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin for delivering this continued investment in the important work of the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance,” said John Umhoefer, WCMA executive director.

Sen. Baldwin (D-Wis.) successfully led the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives program to passage through Congress as part of the 2018 farm bill, WCMA said. Since the creation of the program, Baldwin has championed increasing investments to support the work of the DBIA in Wisconsin and across the Upper Midwest. Programs in California, Tennessee and Vermont have also received funding.

“This program will allow us to continue to strengthen innovation in dairy businesses within the five Midwest states that make up the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance by providing expert training, technical assistance and grants to support diversification and creation of value-added products,” added John Lucey, Ph.D., director of Madison-based CDR.

For more information about DBIA resources and to learn about existing grant opportunities and recent recipients, visit https://www.cdr.wisc.edu/dbia.