Innovation is one of those things that is both exciting to hear about and elusive to most people. But, with the proper resources and support, anything is possible. Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the Center for Dairy Research (CDR) and Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) have been chosen to host a regional Dairy Business Innovation Initiative, an environment conducive to forward-thinking and creative encouragement for all members of the industry.
“This initiative will help support farmstead or small dairy businesses as they explore opportunities to create new value-added dairy products like specialty cheeses, in addition by providing targeted grants to dairy businesses, it will encourage more entrepreneurial efforts,” said John Lucey, CDR Director.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) developed the Dairy Business Innovation Initiative program, successfully shepherding its passage through the 2018 Farm Bill. Baldwin championed the CDR/WCMA application, along with Congressmen Glen Grothman (R-WI6), Ron Kind (D-WI3), Mark Pocan (D-WI2), Bryan Steil (R-WI1), and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection Secretary Brad Pfaff.
“Wisconsin’s dairy businesses are a key driver of our state’s economy, but recently our dairy farmers have faced very challenging times with an oversupply of milk, low milk prices, and tough impacts from tariffs. It’s critical that farmers, cheesemakers, and dairy processors have tools to innovate and develop new Made in Wisconsin dairy products to build a brighter future for our dairy farms and drive our rural economy forward,” said Senator Baldwin in the press release. “I’m proud to stand with Wisconsin’s dairy leaders, including those at the Center for Dairy Research and Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, and work together to open up new resources for our dairy businesses to foster innovation, update manufacturing practices, and reach new markets so Wisconsin dairy can continue to lead the nation. With this initiative, we’re making sure that the world-class research expertise at the University of Wisconsin can reach more of our farmers as they work to build a better future for our rural communities.”
The initiative is set to serve Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, and Illinois with initial funding of more than $450,000. According to the press release, the project will offer low- or no-cost workshops designed to grow the dairy industry and allocate grants directly to dairy businesses for product development and marketing.
“We’re pleased to be guiding investments in the U.S. dairy industry that can boost sales of value-added dairy products domestically and abroad, and—ultimately—increase profitability for family farmers,” said John Umhoefer, WCMA Executive Director. “We’re grateful for Senator Baldwin’s leadership on this concept and USDA’s quick follow-though to aid the dairy industry. And we couldn’t have a better partner than Center for Dairy Research.”
The Dairy Business Innovation Initiative is set to run through 2021. More info can be accessed through the CDR and WCMA websites. For the full USDA grant report, click here. Keep reading Deli Market News as we bring you more updates in the dairy world.