Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives Program Open

The United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Services is now accepting applications for the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives grant program. There is $1.8 million available for this program and applications are due on August 30, 2021.

What is the purpose of this program? The Dairy Business Innovation (DBI) Initiatives program provides an opportunity for eligible entities to host DBI Initiatives and to manage the program by supporting dairy businesses in the development, production, marketing, and distribution of dairy products.

These Initiatives specifically focus on:

  • Diversifying dairy product markets to reduce risk and develop higher value uses for dairy products;
  • Promoting business development that diversifies farmer income through processing and marketing innovation; and
  • Encouraging the use of regional milk production.

The purpose of this solicitation is to select new entities that will serve as Initiatives from fiscal years (FY) 2021 to 2024.

What are Initiatives? Initiatives are selected eligible entities that host this program according to the purposes described above. Initiatives must be positioned to draw on existing dairy industry resources, including dairy farm density and suitability, as well as activities conducted by dairy promotion and research programs (authorized by the Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983 and the Fluid Milk Promotion Act of 1990), research organizations, dairy businesses, or academic or industry stakeholders.

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.

Who is eligible to apply? Eligible entities include:

  • State departments of agriculture or other state entities,
  • Cooperative extension services,
  • Institutions of higher education, and
  • Nonprofit organizations.

All applicants must be domestic entities owned, operated, and located within the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or Tribal Governments. 

Dairy promotion programs are not eligible to host an Initiative.

What are eligible project activities? Initiatives are expected to provide direct technical assistance and make sub-grants to dairy businesses as described below.

Direct Technical Assistance: Direct technical assistance includes nonmonetary assistance to dairy businesses through either private consultation or widely available distribution. Technical assistance may be provided directly through the host Initiative or through other partners or collaborators such as industry experts or research institutions, including cooperative extension services. Specific forms of assistance may include:

  • Business consulting, including business plan development for processed dairy products, strategic planning assistance, and distribution and supply chain innovation;
  • Marketing and branding assistance, including market messaging, packaging innovation, consumer assessments, innovation in emerging market opportunities, and evaluation of regional, national, and international markets;
  • Assistance in product innovation, including the development of value-added products, innovation in by-product reprocessing and use maximization, and dairy product production training, including in new, rare, or innovative techniques; and
  • Development or facilitation of informational websites, webinars, conferences, trainings, plant tours, and field days.

Subawards to Dairy Businesses: Initiatives will facilitate and have operational responsibility to carry out a subaward program with at least 50 percent of the awarded funds (e.g., an Initiative with a $500,000 award will be expected to award at least $250,000 in subawards). The subaward program will focus on:

  • Modernization, specialization, and grazing transition on dairy farms;
  • Value chain and commodity innovation and facility and process updates for dairy processors; and
  • Product development, packaging, and marketing of dairy products.

Individual subawards that Initiatives award will be to new or existing dairy businesses and will not be more than $500,000. Initiatives will prioritize entities that receive direct technical assistance and are:

  • Dairy farms and dairy businesses with limited access to other forms of assistance;
  • Employee-owned dairy businesses;
  • Cooperatives; and
  • Dairy businesses that seek to create dairy products that add substantial value in processing or marketing, such as specialty cheeses.

What kind of applications will receive priority consideration? Priority will be given to applications that:

  • Are in and serve a U.S. geographic area that is not currently served by the existing Initiatives.
  • Are inclusive of serving dairy businesses in multiple states.
  • Have a diverse set of relevant project partners, including representation of historically underserved entities such as socially disadvantaged and/or beginning dairy farmers and ranchers, although such partners need not be based in the Initiative’s geographic region.

What is the funding availability for this program?

Approximately $1.8 million will be available to fund new Initiatives in FY 2021. At least one new DBI Initiative will be funded. If multiple Initiatives are funded, funds will be apportioned in equal amounts. For example, if three Initiatives are funded, with approximately $1.8 million available, each Initiative will receive approximately $600,000.

Any selected entity is expected to serve as an Initiative between FY 2021 through 2024 and is expected to submit a non-competing application for each FY the DBI is appropriated funds during this tenure.

Is there a cost sharing or match requirement? There is no cost sharing or match requirement.

What is the project period?  Projects must be completed within three years. The project period must begin no later than October 31, 2021 and end no later than October 30, 2024.

When is the grant deadline? Applications are due on August 30, 2021 by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

The Request for Applications can be found here.

For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at grants@morrisonco.net or call us at 530-893-4764.


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