Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center Strives to Make a Mark on the Region’s Dairy Industry

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) announces the full launch of the Vermont-based Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC) funded by the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) and strongly supported by incoming Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and a leading member of the Agriculture Committee Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy. 

“I believe that the dairy industry has a strong future in Vermont and across the Northeast Region as producers implement innovative and efficient practices, develop new products and find new markets,” Senator Leahy (D-Vt.), said. “I’ve worked to establish and fund the Dairy Business Innovation Center to help keep the dairy industry thriving in the Northeast and at the forefront nationally. I applaud the Vermont Agency of Agriculture for its work in service of that goal.”

The NE-DBIC funds the development of direct technical assistance, contracts, and grants that benefit dairy businesses, including niche dairy products such as specialty cheese. Projects will take place throughout Vermont, New England, and the Northeast region to support cow, goat, and sheep dairy businesses in the development, production, marketing, and distribution of dairy products.  

“This new center will grow the dairy economy,” Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts said.  “Farmers are always adapting to meet the needs of consumers and this new initiative will give farmers more resources and support to grow their businesses.  We are fortunate to have this Northeast Dairy Innovation Center in Vermont thanks to the leadership of Senator Leahy and the Vermont delegation.”

To date, the NE-DBIC has received $6.59 million from the USDA-AMS Dairy Business Innovation Initiative, with another allocation expected in 2021.  The NE-DBIC will award at least half of the federal funding to dairy farmers and value-added processors throughout the Northeast region. 

The following organizations have received funding for projects: Vermont Cheese Council for cheese distribution capacity building; University of Vermont Extension for two projects: value-added production safety and grazing transition technical assistance; Atlantic Corporation based in Maine for goat and sheep milk market research; and direct grants to two cheesemakers, Cellars at Jasper Hill, and Parish Hill Creamery.  

During the early months of the global pandemic, both Parish Hill Creamery and Cellars at Jasper Hill were granted COVID-19 Response Business Development Grant through Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, funded by the NE-DBIC: 

  • Parish Hill Creamery is using funds to purchase equipment to streamline and expand capacity for cutting and wrapping cheese; update their marketing strategy though a website upgrade, professional photography/videography, and brand development; and a feasibility study and site plan to accommodate expansion. 
  • Cellars at Jasper Hill is using funds to hire a research and design firm and public relations professional on the design and launch of a new cheese packing line utilizing their newly purchased ‘flow-wrap’ machine and automatic cutting equipment. This research and packaging experience will be shared with the cheesemaking community. 

Upcoming opportunities through the NE-DBIC early in 2021 will expand to a regional audience with the release of bids for a distribution network study, a marketing and branding study, and a multi-business dairy agritourism grant program.

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