Funding Available for Southeast Dairies Looking to Build Processing Capacity

CALS students work with their cows prior to the annual State Fair. PHOTO BY ROGER WINSTEAD

Beginning July 15, 2021 dairy businesses in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky will be eligible to apply for a new round of funding to modernize and diversify their operations through the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives (DBII) program.

The first round of funds for this program was made available to Tennessee dairy farms in 2020 as part of an ongoing grant from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. In this new round of DBII funding, the pool of potential recipients has expanded to include dairy businesses in Kentucky and North Carolina as well as Tennessee. The scale of projects that can be funded through this phase of funding has also grown.

Applications may be submitted by prospective or current dairy businesses provided the dairy business diversifies dairy product markets to reduce risk and develop higher value uses for dairy products, promotes business development that diversifies farmer income through processing and marketing innovation, and encourages the use of regional milk production.

Grant applications for prospective or current dairy businesses provided by the Southeast DBII must focus on value chain and commodity innovation and facility and process updates for dairy processors and/or dairy product development, packaging and marketing.

This is a reimbursement program and applicants must receive prior written approval of their project before incurring any expense. Appropriate documentation (including copies of paid receipts) of each expense must be provided when requesting reimbursement. Applications will be reviewed within 60 days after the application period closes.DBII is working in affiliation with North Carolina State University Extension and the Kentucky Dairy Development Council (KDDC) to publicize and evaluate applications for this round of grant funding. Anyone who has questions about the program or about allowable expenses or purchases should reach out to their state contacts, Dr. Stephanie Ward (Animal Science) and Brittany Whitmire (Ag & Resource Economics), by email at or by phone at (919) 515-4015.

For program details, visit the NC Dairy Extension DBII page.