Four companies and cooperatives have been selected for the Dairy Industry Impact grants totaling more than $600,000 after a competitive review process.
The money comes from the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance, a partnership between the Center for Dairy Research at UW-Madison and Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. The grant was designed to attract medium to large dairy companies to create an innovative idea or tackle a challenge to advance the industry.
The program awards reimbursable grants ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 for USDA-eligible expenses related to a company’s proposed project. This is the first cycle for the Dairy Industry Impact grant and the four companies listed below have committed to sharing their knowledge gained with the wider dairy industry.
“These grants will help explore new waste treatment options for smaller cheese plants, help position dairy in the sports beverage category, expand the utilization of coproducts, and enhance cheese export opportunities,” says CDR Director John Lucey. “The DBIA is committed to helping move our dairy industry forward.”
Meet the recipients, listed alphabetically:
Cedar Grove Cheese of Plain will scale up a model, liquid waste-to-fertilizer system for small dairy processors. This solution will convert wash water into marketable fertilizer, which is expected to be relatively affordable for small and medium size dairy plants. The project will result in recovery and marketing of nutrients from the bio-solids remaining after treatment of cheese plant wash waste.
GoodSport Nutrition of Evanston, Illinois will raise consumer awareness regarding the ability of dairy products to deliver effective hydration before, during and after exercise, opening the door for dairy products to access the $8.3 billion plus sports beverage market. The company will attend select sports health professional tradeshows to present scientific research behind dairy’s hydration properties. The project aims to pave the way for product development and entry of other dairy-based sports nutrition products, adding benefit of creating value for a dairy by-product previously considered a commodity.
Milk Specialties Global of Eden Prairie, Minnesota will evaluate the potential nutritional benefits of a low-value dairy by-product in animal feed. If successful, the expected nutritional benefits will create both a new market and higher price for commodity items. This will also incentivize the development of additional premium feed products to justify a value-added price for what is currently a processing by-product.
Specialty Cheese Company of Reeseville will provide market access services for a group of small cheese producers to increase export opportunities via consolidated shipments to the Middle East and Japan. This will increase the competitiveness of small Wisconsin cheese producers by reducing shipping costs and providing export expertise. The funds provided will enable the consortium to validate a model pilot program that can be replicated in other domestic geographic areas as well as being capable of expansion to other international markets.
“From new export initiatives to product development and innovative plant efficiencies, the projects funded by the DBIA impact not only the recipients, but the entire industry,” says WCMA Executive Director John Umhoefer. “WCMA is pleased to help support dairy’s continued growth and modernization.”
The Dairy Business Innovation Alliance is supported by funding from the USDA and was created in the 2018 federal Farm Bill. In addition to the Dairy Industry Impact grant, the DBIA administers Dairy Business Builder grants to support small to medium size dairy enterprises and provides extensive online resources to support dairy businesses through webinars and technical assistance.