$450,000 in grant funds will support organic dairy farms after 2021 milk contract cancelations
December 16, 2022 | Montpelier, VT - The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC), hosted by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets announces the Organic On-Farm Milk Storage & Handling Grant. This grant opportunity opened December 13, 2022 and closes on February 9, 2023. In a continuing response to the ongoing organic dairy crisis brought to the forefront when dozens of farmers across the Northeast lost milk contracts in 2021, and in response to the high demand for milk storage and handling upgrades in previous funding rounds, the NE-DBIC is opening a special grant round for organic dairy producers.
This grant will fund the purchase of specialized equipment to help streamline milk pick-up, increase efficiencies around milk storage, and improve handling for both farmers and their processors. Open to all organic dairy farmers, those who lost contracts will be prioritized to help them successfully transition to new buyers. In a joint statement, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Amanda Beal and Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources Director Nancy McBrady, said:
“New England dairies face many pressures, including rising input costs, sustained milk transportation, and logistical challenges. This grant will help producers, including organic producers negatively impacted by milk contract cancellations, make critical investments in milk storage and handling to resolve some of these constraints. We appreciate NE-DBIC’s efforts to support regional dairy production through impactful and innovative grant opportunities.”
As a result of the organic dairy crisis, the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center was awarded an additional $19 million by the USDA to increase resiliency in the organic supply chain. While many farms across the region have new contracts with companies including Organic Valley and Stonyfield, some farms have made the hard decision to sell cows and shut down their farm. For those transitioning to new buyers, this funding opportunity offers the ability to upgrade storage and milk handling to meet buyer requirements.
This new funding will also be meaningful to New York, NY State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said. “These grants are great news for New York’s organic dairy farms and will allow them to make the critical facility upgrades needed to better compete in the marketplace. I am happy to see this level of dedicated support by the NE-DBIC to our organic dairy farms. New York’s dairy industry is the top sector of our agricultural economy, and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure our farms remain strong and viable in the future.”
Awards will range from $10,000- $50,000 with a 25% cash/in-kind match encouraged. Total funds available equal $450,000. This grant is open to applicants in 11 Northeast states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center is funded through USDA and hosted by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. The Center's investment and project strategy promotes innovation and resiliency for regional production of dairy products across an 11-state Northeast region. To date, the NE-DBIC has received $38.7 million from the USDA-AMS Dairy Business Innovation Initiative.
For more information on NE-DBIC and the Organic On-Farm Storage & Handling Grant, visit: www.agriculture.vermont.gov/dbic
Contact: Katie Spring (she/her) | NE-DBIC Outreach & Content Specialist | 802-522-3186 | Katie.Spring@vermont.gov