USDA Invests $20.2M in Grants for Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $20.2 million in grant funding for the Dairy Business Innovation (DBI) Initiatives. This program supports USDA’s efforts to develop higher value uses for dairy products, diversify farmer income through processing and marketing innovation, and encourage the use of regional milk production.

“This program has already shown success in helping dairy farmers develop new business models and value-added products,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The additional funding provided will allow USDA to reach more farmers by increasing the capacity of current initiatives and expanding the program to new areas.”

DBI Initiatives provide direct technical assistance and make grants to dairy businesses. The three current DBI initiatives at University of Tennessee, The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, and the University of Wisconsin are eligible for additional grant funding (up to $18.4 million) to continue their work.

In addition, $1.8 million will be competitively awarded to at least one new Initiative. USDA will give priority to applications that serve a geographic area not covered by an existing initiative and that cover multiple states. Initiatives must be able to draw upon existing dairy resources. Initiatives may serve a certain product niche, such as specialty cheese, or serve dairy businesses with dairy products derived from the milk of a specific type of dairy animal, including dairy products made from cow milk, sheep milk, and goat milk.

Application and Grant Eligibility

Applications must be submitted electronically through by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, August 30, 2021.

To receive funding, the current initiatives will undergo an administrative review to ensure the proposed activities fulfill the purpose of DBI. To be considered as a new DBI initiative, applications will undergo external expert peer review as well as an administrative review. The selection process for new initiatives is expected to be highly competitive.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service encourages applications for initiatives that benefit smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, veteran producers, and underserved communities. For grants intending to serve these entities, applicants should engage and involve those beneficiaries when developing projects and applications.

For more information about grant eligibility and previously funded projects, visit the DBI webpage, or contact us at