Blackburn, Baldwin Introduce Bill To Support American Dairy Businesses

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Source: https://www.blackburn.senate.gov/2023/8/blackburn-baldwin-introduce-bill-to-support-american-dairy-businesses

U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) introduced the Dairy Business Innovation Act of 2023, bipartisan legislation that will reauthorize and strengthen the Dairy Business Innovation (DBI) Initiatives to help more American dairy farmers and processors add value to their businesses, including creating new products, expanding their markets, and modernizing their production facilities.

“The dairy industry is an essential part of the American economy. It is crucial that we provide the resources that dairies in Tennessee need to expand and create new products,” said Senator Blackburn. “With many small Tennessee dairies struggling to remain open, this bill will allow these businesses to diversify and expand their market competitiveness.”

“Wisconsin Dairy is essential to our Made in Wisconsin economy and our state’s identity. I’ve heard directly from dozens of Wisconsin dairies that have expanded their businesses thanks to the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives, and I’m proud to lead the charge to ensure this program has the resources it needs to help more businesses innovate and grow for the future,” said Senator Baldwin. “Our dairy farmers and producers face unique challenges, and expanding this program will give more small- and medium-sized dairy businesses the tools and opportunity to reach new markets, implement efficiencies, and create world-class products.”

“As one of only four Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives in the country, Tennessee’s grants to dairy businesses go a long way to help producers diversify products and markets, as well as increase the use of locally-produced milk,” said Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M., Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. “The initiative puts more money in dairy farmers’ pockets to create more jobs and strengthen local economies. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture supports the reauthorization of the Dairy Business Innovation Act and the recommended increase in funding through SDBII that will allow for success for dairy processors and producers.”

“Since its passage, the Dairy Business Innovation Act has been a major catalyst in increasing revenue for rural dairy businesses and in overcoming impediments to their expansion. As the program manager for the Southeast region, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) strongly supports the continuation and expansion of this valuable assistance to producers and the dairy industry. These grants, totaling more than $38.7 million in five years with more than $19.3 million focused on grants for dairy businesses, have had an historic impact on our industry in Tennessee and in the surrounding states, and we are grateful to Senators Blackburn and Baldwin for their support,” said Dr. Elizabeth Eckelkamp, Southeast Dairy Business Innovation Initiative program director and dairy Extension specialist with UTIA.

The Dairy Business Innovation Act of 2023:

Supports funding for the DBI Initiatives, authorizing $36 million per year, up from $20 million, to help more American farmers and processors modernize, reach new markets, and create economic growth.

BACKGROUND:

  • The DBI Initiatives provide resources to serve prospective and established businesses that produce a product made from milk from a dairy animal, including dairy farms with their own production facilities and dairy processors with cheese, ice cream, and bottling facilities.
  • Since the program was established in 2019, DBI Initiatives have supported over $150 million in awards through regional centers across the country. Each regional initiative is tasked with providing technical assistance and grants to farmers and processors.
  • In addition to Senators Baldwin and Blackburn, the Dairy Business Innovation Act of 2023 is co-sponsored by Senator Peter Welch (D-VT). The legislation is endorsed by the National Milk Producers Federation, Organic Valley, and International Dairy Foods Association.

A one-pager for this legislation is available here.

Full text of this legislation is available here.