The Dairy Business Builder grant competition, administered by the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA), opens Feb. 1, 2022, when applications will be available for download. According to the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) and the Center for Dairy Research (CDR) — which partner to execute the DBIA in the Upper Midwest — eligible projects will include dairy farm diversification and on-farm processing, the creation of value-added dairy products, and efforts to market dairy products for export. Reimbursement grants of up to $50,000 each will be awarded through a competitive review process.

Small- to medium-sized dairy farm operations, entrepreneurs and processors in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin can prepare now to apply for the new $1 million round of grants. This advance notice allows applicants to develop business plans, secure vendor quotes and take advantage of webinars and other resources available at, WCMA and CDR said.

“Since the creation of DBIA, we’ve seen many innovative proposals that have advanced farm and dairy processor businesses and brought new products to market,” said John Umhoefer, executive director of Madison, Wis.-based WCMA.

The DBIA is supported by USDA. Since its inception as part of the 2018 farm bill, the DBIA has administered nearly $1.5 million in 38 grants to dairy farms and businesses in all five participating Midwestern states, the organizations noted. The program also offers technical assistance and education to dairy farmers and processors in the region.

“These funds will help small dairy businesses grow and innovate, which has become even more critical for their success in these turbulent times,” said John Lucey, Ph.D., director of the Madison, Wis.-based CDR.

The DBIA offers a wealth of helpful online resources, including an extensive webinar library, to help dairy businesses apply for grants. DBIA staff will also host a webinar in January 2022 to offer additional guidance for the upcoming Dairy Business Builder grant.

Those interested in applying for a Dairy Business Builder grant are strongly encouraged to visit the DBIA website,, to view past webinars and sign up for the January session prior to the opening of the application period in February. Completed applications will be due March 31, 2022, WCMA and CDR said.