The Southeast Dairy Business Innovation Initiative is a multifaceted program based in The University of Tennessee’s Animal Science Department. The program’s aim is to improve the vibrancy, diversity, and economic sustainability of dairy industry stakeholders at all levels of the supply chain. programming and technical assistance has been provided in areas including animal husbandry (for both large and small ruminants), food safety, food quality, product development, economic benchmarking, marketing, agritourism, and emerging issues such as policy and transportation. To bring resources and tools together across all of these content areas the SDBII program is a partnership across many academic disciplines, institutions, and industry organizations.



Industry Partnerships

Funding Support

The SDBII program is funded by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The program is one of four regional initiatives funded by USDA. The others are based at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, the Center for Dairy Research (at The University of Wisconsin-Madison), and California State University Fresno. To date, SDBII has received four grants from USDA AMS totaling more than $31.5MM.

Grants Received by SDBII

–UDSA-AMS 2019: $450,000

–USDA-AMS 2020: $6,133,333

–USDA-AMS 2021: $6,133,333

–USDA-AMS American Rescue Plan 2022: $19,000,000

–USDA-AMS 2022 (in progress): $7,533,333

Business Grant: Returns to the Dairy Community

Half of the funding that the SDBII program receives is transferred directly to the dairy community of the Southeast through grant awards to dairy businesses. SDBII funded its first round of dairy business grants in 2019 when it awarded $227,000 across 11 competitive grants. The award recipients from this round of funding have reported the following benefits:

•An increase of 34% ($1,556,000.00) in annual sales revenues from the 11 businesses

•An increase of 51% in customers from the 11 businesses.

16 new jobs were added as part of these projects and 22 jobs were maintained as part of these projects

•Shift from more intensive sales avenues to more stable sales avenues and increase in total sales avenues (17%)

In 2021 SDBII awarded $2,817,503 across 23 competitive grants and expanded its geographical reach from Tennessee only to the neighboring states of Kentucky and North Carolina. Projects from this round of funding are currently being carried out and will be completed by September 2023. Based on the outcomes from the previous grant awards, this investment of funds in Southeastern dairy businesses is expected to maintain or create as many as 472 jobs and increase annual sales for recipients by as much as $19MM. Projects funded by the grant fell into the following categories:

•Feasibility studies (3)

•Cheese plant updates (13)

•Yogurt plant updates (2)

•Ice cream plant updates (7)

•Bottling plant updates (1)

•Soap manufacturing updates (1)

Grant award recipients have made testimonials about the impact of the SDBII program including those highlighted below:

To see pictures and read full testimonials from SDBII grant recipients please click here.