By Scott Waterman, VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) is excited to announce a new fund from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) augmenting the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC) and the region’s dairy businesses. Vermont’s and our regions dairies will now have the opportunity to submit additional proposals for up to $20 million in American Rescue Plan funds to further support processing capacity expansion, on-farm improvements, and technical assistance to producers as part of an additional overall investment of $80 million in the Dairy Business Innovation (DBI) Initiatives (DBI) from USDA.
“These resources will help those who make their living off the land,” Vermont Governor Phil Scott said. “Dairy farmers are the backbone of our rural economy, and these dollars will provide much needed support for our hard-working dairy farmers who are feeding us. We thank Secretary Vilsack and his team at USDA and our Congressional delegation for their leadership and their commitment to Vermont Agriculture.”
In November 2021, DBI awarded $18.4 million to three current Initiatives at University of Tennessee, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and University of Wisconsin, and $1.8 million to a new initiative at California State University Fresno. Under the existing DBI program, which was previously announced through a FY21 Request for Applications (RFA), each initiative will now have the opportunity to submit additional proposals for up to $20 million in American Rescue Plan funds to further support processing capacity expansion, on-farm improvements, and technical assistance to producers.”
“This allocation of $20 million dollars to the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC) at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture is great news for dairy farmers,” Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts said. “These funds will help build more markets for family farms, improve dairy processing, create new dairy products and make it more affordable for farmers while growing their businesses. We thank USDA and Secretary Vilsack for their leadership on this important issue for Vermonters and the Northeast.”
Since its inception in 2019, DBI initiatives have provided valuable technical assistance and sub-grants to dairy farmers and businesses across their regions, assisting them with business plan development, marketing and branding, as well as, increasing access to innovative production and processing techniques to support the development of value-added products. Separate from this supplemental ARP funding, AMS plans to announce a new DBI Request for Applications later in FY22 contingent upon appropriations.
Laura Ginsburg, the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center lead, said the funds come at a critical time for our region’s organic dairies. “The additional funding provided by the USDA is a catalytic investment in our regional dairy system and will allow us to support farmers who have lost their market while also investing funds into the dairy supply chain,” Ginsburg said. “The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center is built around regional collaboration and we look forward to working with our partners in other states to develop the highest and best use of this money. Using the forward thinking approach the NE-DBIC brings to all opportunities, we will work to ensure that we are not just solving the problems of the present moment but positioning our region for a stronger and more resilient future.”
USDA Undersecretary Jenny Lester Moffitt visited Vermont and held a press conference in Montpelier today to discuss this news and her visit alongside VAAFM Secretary Anson Tebbetts. To view a recording of the press conference visit the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets’ Facebook page
For more information about the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center, please visit: https://agriculture.vermont.gov/dbic