USDA invests $20.2m in Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: Getty Images/Richard Hamilton Smith
Pic: Getty Images/Richard Hamilton Smith

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U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced an investment of $20.2m in the Dairy Business Innovation (DBI) Initiatives.

DBI awarded $18.4m to three current Initiatives at University of Tennessee, Vermont Agency for Food and Marketing and University of Wisconsin, and $1.8m to the California State University Fresno.

Since its inception in 2019, DBI initiatives have provided technical assistance and sub-grants to dairy farmers and businesses across their regions, assisting with business plan development, marketing and branding, as well as increasing access to innovative production and processing techniques to support the development of value-added products.

“These awards will expand the scope of the Dairy Business Innovation program and provide much-needed support to small dairy farms and businesses as they continue to recover from the pandemic,”​ said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Moffitt.

“In addition to initiatives in the Southeast, Northeast and Midwest, a new initiative for the Pacific Coast is funded, led by California State University Fresno. These DBI initiatives provide the dairy industry with additional capacity and expertise that will go beyond immediate assistance and set the stage for a more secure future.”

University of Tennessee – The University of Tennessee’s Center for Profitable Agriculture provides educational opportunities to help producers starting or expanding a dairy business in the Southeast (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia) to manage financial risk by evaluating opportunities to develop and market value-added dairy products.

University of Wisconsin – The Dairy Business Innovation Alliance, a partnership between the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Dairy Research (CDR) and the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA), works with regional collaborators across five Midwest states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota and Illinois) to provide expertise, resources and insights to support dairy business innovation.

Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets – The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Initiative focuses on three strategic development areas: direct assistance to farmers, consumer engagement and value-added production and processing to states in the Northeast - Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

California State University Fresno will lead a collaborative effort leveraging existing dairy industry resources, including institutions of higher education; state dairy promotion programs; research organizations; and industry stakeholders to spur regional dairy innovation by assisting dairy businesses in developing higher value uses for their milk, diversifying their markets and income, and realizing increased returns. The Pacific Coast Coalition Dairy Business Innovation Initiative will support dairy businesses in California, Washington, and Oregon.

WCMA executive director John Umhoefer said, “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. Senator Tammy Baldwin for delivering this continued investment in the important work of the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance.”

Dr John Lucey, CDR director, added, “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.”

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