Speaking at member Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese in Waterloo, WI, on Monday (20 June), USDA officials revealed US$20m of its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) resources will go to support the work of the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA). An additional US$22.9m in agency appropriations will be made available to DBIA and three other innovation centers nationwide.
“The Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives have proven to be an invaluable resource for dairy farmers and businesses because of their ability to provide targeted resources and funding through subawards at the local and regional level, maximizing impact,” USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt remarked.
“As we celebrate National Dairy Month this June, USDA continues to look for ways to support America’s dairy industry, especially amidst ongoing supply chain and food system challenges. With this additional funding, the four DBIs are receiving a significant increase in resources, enabling each to continue facilitating the development of critical relationships with local dairy producers and processors to support their on-the-ground needs."
Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, who has championed the Dairy Business Innovation initiatives, added: “Wisconsin’s dairy businesses are a key driver of our state’s economy and with all the challenges they face I’m working to do everything I can to help. This federal funding from USDA will help Wisconsin dairy businesses modernize, reach new markets, and create economic growth.
“The Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives provide our farmers, cheesemakers, and dairy processors with the tools they need to innovate and develop new Made in Wisconsin dairy products. I’m thankful that President Biden and USDA are committed partners in supporting Wisconsin’s dairy economy and rural communities.”
How will funds be spent?
The funding will support an expansion of the DBIA program’s service area to include Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio. Currently, the program covers Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Dairy businesses in broadened service areas will see a boost in direct-to-business grant funding available through DBIA.
Businesses who successfully apply for the Dairy Business Builder grant will now be eligible to receive up to $100,000 each to support business-boosting projects. The Dairy Industry Impact grant will offer up to $500,000 per award to fund innovative projects with a broad impact.
American Rescue Plan Act funds will also be used to launch new dairy research projects focused on the creation of value-added products at the newly renovated Center for Dairy Research, and to support an innovative mentorship program engaging long-time dairy business leaders and cheesemakers to support entrepreneurship in the industry
“This critical investment in dairy innovation allows us to expand our DBIA grants and support programs to 11 Midwest states that produce over a third of all US milk production,” said John Lucey, Center for Dairy Research Director. “This funding also provides key investments in critical research and emerging opportunities, such as biofermentation of dairy residues, and we thank the US Department of Agriculture and Senator Baldwin for their ongoing support of this essential program.”
The news was welcomed by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA).
“We are thrilled to build on the impact of the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance, strengthening dairy farms and processors and rural communities,” said John Umhoefer, WCMA Executive Director.