If you own a dairy with fewer than 300 cows and you can’t expand, you may be seeking ways to keep the farm in the family through cheese making or other value-added dairy products. The Dairy Business Builder grant could help you pay up to $100,000.00 in reimbursement funds for planning, construction, equipment, packaging, marketing materials, and even to reimburse you for labor. This link to the web page at the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin explains this program.

This is a reimbursement grant, so you have to spend the money AFTER you receive notice you got the grant and receive reimbursement AFTER you have spent the money. But it’s worth it for a lot of farmers, since banks feel secure knowing that you will get the money to pay off any loan you might need to take to start the project.

Projects might include:

  • Feasibility study and business plan to decide what type of value-added milk product to make and what consulting and equipment will be needed.
  • Marketing study to decide where and how to sell your new products.
  • Reimbursement for cheese, ice cream, or other dairy product-making equipment.
  • Reimbursement for cold-room kits, construction, refrigeration units, etc.
  • Reimbursement for labor expenses while you learn how to make your new product and as you begin production.
  • Reimbursement for designing your logo, labeling, packaging, signage, website, and the packaging itself.

Your point of contact for this grant program is Emily Slatter: eslatter@cdr.wisc.edu. Another great contact there is Vic Grassman, vgrassman@cdr.wisc.edu. Please watch the recorded webinars on the website, which should answer almost all your questions.

I recently helped a small Missouri creamery get this grant through writing their proposal, crafting the required project business plan, and submitting the grant for them. This creamery will be reimbursed for expanding their cheese production into a new type of cheese that they have not made before. 

If you would like advice about this grant, or help with your proposal, email me through my contact form at https://lisadstewart.com,  and I will be happy to get you off on the right foot. I can advise you on an hourly basis or mange the whole grant application process. It is always helpful to read all the information in the link to the web page that tells about this relatively new grant program. Don’t worry if it says, “This grant is closed.” Read up anyway, because this grant will reopen, and you will have time to prepare.

If you already are a dairy product manufacturer, you might want to explore the Dairy Industry Impact Grant. Here is the link to this program:  https://www.cdr.wisc.edu/dbia-industry-impact-grant .  This grant is for dairy product manufacturers that want help developing an innovative idea or tackling a challenge that has the potential to advance the dairy industry if it is solved. The Dairy Industry Impact grant pays between $50,000 and $250,000 for eligible expenses. Remember, this is reimbursement money, not up-front money. But, being a grant, it does not have to be paid back