March 30, 2022

USDA offers $80 million in funding for dairy

USDA offers $80 million in funding for dairy 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $80 million in additional funding into the Dairy Business Innovation (DBI) Initiatives. The DBI Initiatives support dairy businesses in the development, production, marketing, and distribution of dairy products. DBI Initiatives provide direct technical assistance and grants to dairy businesses, including niche dairy products, such as specialty cheese, or dairy products derived from the milk of a dairy animal, including cow, sheep, and goat milk.

“The pandemic has demonstrated that dairy producers and regional dairy processors, particularly those engaged in value-added production, faced systemic shocks over the past several years,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We have heard directly from producers and processors – particularly organic producers and processors in the Northeast – on how we can work with the industry to build long-term resilience of regional dairy supply chains. The Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives have supported regional-focused efforts tailored to the needs of dairy farmers and businesses locally. This additional funding will expand the capacity of the four initiatives to provide technical assistance and sub-grants exponentially.”

Since its inception in 2019, DBI initiatives have provided valuable technical assistance and sub-grants to dairy farmers and businesses across their regions, assisting them 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.

In November 2021, $18.4 million was given to three current Initiatives at the University of Tennessee, Vermont Agency for Food and Marketing, and the University of Wisconsin. An additional $1.8 million was given to a new initiative at California State University Fresno. Under the existing DBI program, each Initiative can now submit additional proposals for up to $20 million in American Rescue Plan funds to further support processing capacity expansion, on-farm improvements, and technical assistance to producers.

The news is warmly accepted by those in the dairy industry. “This is a historic investment in dairy businesses, and so vital at a time of  trade volatility, labor shortages, and supply chain disruptions challenging dairy farm and dairy processor businesses,” said John Umhoefer, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association Executive Director.  “It demonstrates the firm commitment of the Biden Administration, Secretary Vilsack, and Senator Baldwin to stabilize and strengthen the U.S. dairy industry in ways that will enable us to meet the demands of a growing international marketplace.”

Learn more about the DBI Initiatives here.