New Program to Support Midwest Dairy Entrepreneurship


The Center for Dairy Research and Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association are excited to announce the launch of the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA). DBIA is a new program that will provide technical and financial support to dairy farmers and processors that are developing and producing value-added dairy products in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota.

DBIA is a result of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives (DBII) in the 2018 Farm Bill. The initiatives support dairy businesses in the development, production, marketing and distribution of dairy products through direct technical assistance and grants to dairy businesses. In 2019, there was a national competition for grant proposals under this program and three were selected. In addition to Wisconsin’s DBIA, other initiatives are being led by the University of Tennessee and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

DBIA Goals

  • Increase on-farm diversification opportunities.

  • Create value-added dairy products such as specialty cheeses.

  • Focus on export opportunities for farm-scale and processor dairy products

Grant Program

The DBIA has established a grant program that will solicit, review and approve proposals from dairy farms and businesses within the region, who will then receive a financial grant to help bring said ideas to fruition. DBIA will be distributing direct-to-business grants totaling $220,000. A grant review committee established by DBIA will review applications and make subsequent awards. Grants will be awarded for projects in increments up to $20,000.

Examples of applications qualifying for grants could include:

  • Dairy farm diversification through value-added initiatives, such as development of dairy products or on-farm dairy business ventures.

  • Modernization, specialization or expansion of farmsteads or processing facilities to support product development or improvement.

  • Increasing sales of current products through improvement of product quality, packaging, marketing, etc.

  • Dairy commodity innovation and value chain improvements.

  • Ensuring and improving regulatory compliance and quality control to give businesses greater access to the food industry, e.g. to supply local stores and processors.

The grant application is now available on the DBIA website. The application is due August 14 and selected applicants will be notified September 4.

DBIA Webinar – July 14

If you might be interested in applying for a grant through DBIA, we encourage you to join DBIA for its first webinar on Tuesday, July 14 from 2-3 pm (CT). This free webinar will provide more details about DBIA’s direct-to-business grant opportunities and the process to apply. Registration is available on the DBIA website.

I encourage you to watch the DBIA website for additional updates. Later this summer we will have more information regarding additional online workshops that DBIA will be offering. These workshops will provide information and contacts on public sector resources that can assist in helping dairy farmers and processors expand into new areas of business.

Questions? Contact: Karen Nielsen, DBIA Program Coordinator at 608-265-1491 or knielsen@cdr.wisc.edu.

Or for more information, visit the DBIA Website: https://turbo.cdr.wisc.edu/dairy-business-innovation-alliance/

Funding for the DBIA was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant AM190100XXXXG079. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.

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