MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced $20.2 million in investments in dairy business innovation efforts, including in the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center in Vermont, that it says will help small dairy farms as they recover from the pandemic.
A total of $18.4 million is being shared by three current initiatives at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, the University of Tennessee and the University of Wisconsin. Also, $1.8 million is going to the California State University Fresno, the USDA announced Wednesday.
“These awards will expand the scope of the Dairy Business Innovation program and provide much-needed support to small dairy farms and businesses as they continue to recover from the pandemic,” said Jenny Moffitt, the USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, in a written statement. “In addition to initiatives in the Southeast, Northeast and Midwest, a new initiative for the Pacific Coast is funded, led by California State University Fresno."
The Dairy Business Innovation initiatives have provided technical assistance and grants to dairy farmers and businesses, helping them with business plans, marketing and branding, and increasing access to innovative production and processing techniques for the development of value-added products, the USDA said.
The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center, which serves 10 states, is focused on supporting community and climate-forward dairy production, officials said.
“The ability to work regionally with this funding is a key element of the USDA Initiative’s success, particularly in the Northeast where we are dependent on other states for production, processing, and consumption," said Laura Ginsburg, the center lead.