The Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA) is a partnership between the Center for Dairy Research (CDR) and the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) that will support dairy farmers and dairy processors. DBIA will administer a program providing technical assistance to dairy-related businesses in the five states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota, as well as grants in support of these efforts.
The DBIA resulted from the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill that created the Dairy Business Innovation Initiative to assist dairy farmers and dairy processors in creating new revenue streams through increased farm diversification in new business strategies and the creation of “higher value” food and beverage products containing a dairy ingredient. In 2019, the USDA requested applications that resulted in the selection of three locations as regional hosts for this initiative:
- DBIA, representing the upper Midwest states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota
- Vermont, representing the far northeastern United States
These recipients will evenly share Phase I dollars allocated by USDA for this program. Since the 2018 Farm Bill lasts for five years, it is expected, pending Congress’s budgetary process, that additional annual funding will be made available in subsequent years.
- 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
Funding for Phase I of the Farm Bill (2018-2020) was released in late 2019, providing approximately $440,000 to each regional center. The award is divided into two categories, with 50% of the funds required to be given out as grants.
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.
Examples of applications qualifying for grants could include:
- Modernization, specialization or expansion of farmstead or plant infrastructure to support product development or improvement.
- Increase sales of current product quality/range through product development, packaging and marketing.
- Value chain and commodity innovation to develop specialty dairy products from their operations.
- Ensure quality compliance to give businesses greater access to the food industry, e.g. to supply local stores and processors.
DIRECT TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE:
The DBIA is developing workshops that will provide qualified attendees with the processes and information they need to generate and commercialize viable ideas, with opportunities for additional one-on-one consultations for selected businesses.
These entrepreneurial seminars will take place in specified locations across the Midwest region and will target farms, farm enterprises, smaller cooperatives, artisan cheese producers and other small dairy businesses. Pending available funding, the objective is to hold up to 10 seminars with each having approximately 25 attendees. In addition, the DBIA will:
- Use its collaborator network to ensure the seminar topics have a local focus.
- Market the program to farmsteads and dairy product companies who seek information on how to diversify their businesses through new product development following a defined pathway for success.
- Help with accessing local supporting resources.
To encourage participation from the entire Midwest region, a “collaborator” network is being developed that will include representatives from each of the five states from these areas:
- Departments of Agriculture and Economic Development
- Dairy farm organizations and associations
- Dairy checkoff organizations such as the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and Midwest Dairy Association
- University staff that have a focus on dairy and food science
- Other interested parties
The roles of the collaborators will be multi-faceted in scope, including providing input and feedback to CDR and WCMA on program policies, implementation strategies and seminar development. Their expertise in specific program areas will be vital in helping CDR and WCMA develop, implement and evaluate the technical assistance and grant initiatives in order to leverage the highest program impact as possible.
They will also serve an important role in marketing the program. Activities are expected to include:
- Contact their respective regional counterparts to inform them of any seminars in their area and if they can share email lists for marketing
- Provide ideas on seminar topics (to determine local industry challenges that can be addressed).
- Serve as presenters or subject matter experts, i.e., local economic development
- Provide feedback during the evaluation
ANNUAL GRANT APPLICATION and FUNDING TIMETABLES FOR 2020
Request for proposal information and application will be available June 15
Applications due: August 14
Applications scored and selected: August 28
Selected applicants notified: September 4
Required applicant progress report: March 5, 2021
Project Conclusion: 12 months following award receipt
WORKSHOPS WILL BE OFFERED ONLINE
Given the current situation regarding COVID-19, DBIA will be converting its workshops into online webinars. When regulations allow for in-person meetings, workshops will be held in locations throughout the five states. In the meantime, webinars will provide information and contacts on public sector resources that can assist in helping dairy farmers and processors expand into new areas of business. Please check back for more information.
2020 DAIRY BUSINESS INNOVATION INITIATIVE RFA
Congress has passed funding for this program in the 2020 budget. 2020 Dairy Business Innovation Initiative RFA
CONTACT US | Karen Nielsen, DBIA Program Coordinator | 608-265-1491 | email firstname.lastname@example.org
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.