KNOXVILLE — Help is now available for the state’s dairy businesses.

As part of a recent grant from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, the University of Tennessee Department of Animal Science and the Center for Profitable Agriculture have teamed with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to support eligible Tennessee dairies as they seek to modernize and diversify their operations. Approximately $227,000 has been set aside for subawards to individual Tennessee dairy businesses, and the process to apply for an award is now open. To qualify for a grant, dairy businesses must use the funds to improve their operations in one of the following three areas:

  • modernization, specialization, and grazing transition on dairy farms
  • value chain and commodity innovation and facility and/or process updates for dairy processors
  • dairy product development, packaging, and/or marketing.

Dairy businesses are businesses that develop, produce, market or distribute dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt and more. Each applicant can apply for a maximum of $25,000 per application until all funds are awarded. UT Extension Dairy Specialist Liz Eckelkamp is leading the project. She says the goals of the overall grant as well as the subawards are three-fold:

  1. to diversify dairy product markets so as to reduce risk and develop higher-value uses for dairy products
  2. to promote business development that diversifies farmer income through processing and marketing innovation
  3. to encourage the use of regional milk production

Applicants may apply for funds to receive training, create business or marketing plans, conduct feasibility studies, develop a food safety plan or purchase equipment.

Additional information about the program and the application for a subaward can be found online at tn.gov/agriculture/businesses/business-development/dbi.html. The committee will accept applications until Feb. 15, 2021. Depending on the total awards funded and number of applications received, additional application periods may open after Feb. 15, 2021.

For additional information, contact Eckelkamp at eeckelka@utk.edu or Hal Pepper, financial specialist with the UT Center for Profitable Agriculture at hal.pepper@utk.edu.

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