After a 90-day accelerator program, six startups presented to investors at DFA’s Demo Day on June 27 in Kansas City. The 2019 class was announced in early April, and featured three ag tech companies and three dairy product companies.
Bezoar Laboratories developed a patent-pending probiotic for cattle that decreases their methane production by 50%. Healthy Cow is focused on the cattle’s health and welfare to produce more natural milk and reduce dependence on antibiotics and hormones.
Labby operates an artificial intelligence-powered smartphone platform for food and agro analytics. Brooklyn Buttery sells flavored butter tubs using sustainably sourced ingredients. Numa makes sweet, high-protein chewy milk treats, and RifRaf produces flavored, creamy ricotta cups.
Monica Massey, executive VP and chief of staff at DFA, said, “In selecting participating companies for the DFA Accelerator program we looked at not only the potential of their innovations, but also at the opportunity to form long-term partnerships.
“Though demo day is the conclusion of the official 2019 program, we view it as the start-line for what we hope are potential, long-term partnerships that will yield positive benefits to DFA and its family-farm owners using innovation and technology.”
Strategic co-op partnerships
DFA is also in the beginning stages of a merger with a Vermont dairy cooperative. The St. Albans board of directors unanimously voted to recommend the merger, and its members will have the final vote during a meeting in late July.
St. Albans has been a member cooperative of DFA since 2003, and this deal would make it a wholly owned subsidiary of DFA, including its retail store, plant and trucking service.
Harold J. Howrigan, Jr., chairman of the SACC Board of Directors, said, “Our board has been working nearly two years to strategically plan for the future of our members. With increasing shifts in customer needs, an imbalance in supply and demand and a volatile milk price cycle, it is clear change is needed for our cooperative; however, with change comes great opportunity. DFA offers increased value to our members with the ability to make continued investments in operations, a clear vision for the future and the depth of leadership to carry out that vision.”
Brad Keating, senior VP of DFA’s Northeast Area, said, “DFA and St. Albans have always had closely aligned philosophies and values, with both cooperatives focused on providing value to members and committed to preserving the Northeast tradition of family dairy farming for years to come.”