UTIA Program Awards More than $3MM to Dairy Businesses Looking to Innovate

Share on

December 16, 2021

The Southeast Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives (SDBII) program is set to award $3,067,048.10 to dairy businesses in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Kentucky that applied for grants in the most recent round of funding from the program. After a rigorous review process 24 applications were determined to be of outstanding quality and were selected to receive funding from a pool of 46. The funded applications were submitted for projects involving the processing of cow, goat, and sheep’s milk into products including bottled milk, yogurt, ice cream, cheese, and soap. Applicants were allowed to apply for funding to support business planning, product innovation, and processing capacity expansion. 

This round of funding is the third grant funding opportunity that has been provided through the SDBII program but the first where producers from North Carolina and Kentucky had the chance to apply. In the two previous rounds of funding, SDBII awarded $270,000 to dairy businesses in Tennessee only. In 2022 the program will expand its reach to make grant funding opportunities available to 12 southeastern states including Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. SDBII is funded through an ongoing grant from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

In addition to the grant funding opportunities made available through the program, SDBII provides dairy businesses in the Southeast with a variety of free and low-cost instructional resources. These include an annual value-added dairy conference, a variety of workshops offering advice and insights on topics such as marketing, business plan development, regulations and more.  The program helps ensure that dairy industry professionals have the tools and information that they need to make informed decisions as they plan for growth.

Anyone who has questions about the program should reach out to project leader and UT Extension Dairy Specialist Liz Eckelkamp at eeckelka@utk.edu or Hal Pepper, financial specialist with the UT Center for Profitable Agriculture, at hal.pepper@utk.edu.