Five goats looking over a gate inside a barn

A New Grant Invests in Goat & Sheep Dairy Across the Northeast

By Katie Spring, Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center 

While cows produce the majority of milk in the Northeast, sheep and goats play an important role in the overall dairy landscape – and a new grant program from NE-DBIC aims to support their growth. 

This underdeveloped sector of Northeast dairy has strong potential and increasing consumer demand.  According to research conducted by Atlantic Corporation on behalf of NE-DBIC, “Consumers are willing to pay the highest premiums for local or organic sheep and goat milk.”  However, their research also revealed that, with the exception of goat cheese, many consumers don’t believe sheep and goat products are available at their typical shopping areas.  Still, as Atlantic’s research shows, “the customer segment for local [goat and sheep] dairy products may be smaller, but it could lead to greater profit margins.” 

To help develop small ruminant dairy, NE-DBIC launched a goat and sheep dairy supply chain development grant in 2021. Building on this, 2024’s Goat and Sheep Dairy Development Grant program is now accepting applications until June 6. 

This grant aims to support projects both for individual goat and sheep dairy farmers and for the supply-chain that supports those farms.

Recipients of the previous iteration of this grant included Ayers Brook Goat Dairy of Randolph, VT, whose grant project focused on increased productivity through genetic herd improvements and sales of bucklings and semen with proven genetics throughout the region. This focus on improvement bolsters the genetic foundation of dairy goat herds at farms throughout New England. It also supports competitiveness and profitability of the regional goat dairy industry.    

Other grantees include Vermont Shepherd of Putney, VT, who received funding to provide an education series to potential and existing sheep dairy farmers, expanding knowledge and increasing the potential for sheep dairy growth.

Boston Post Dairy of Enosburg Falls used grant funds to invest in key systems and equipment to increase production efficiencies and expand product line availability to retail accounts, getting more goat cheese on the market.

Misty Meadows Sheep Dairy of Woodbine, NY increased their value-added processing capacity for sheep milk products, allowing them to source increased milk volume from regional sheep dairy farms.  This in turn helped them access regional market opportunities for sheep milk yogurt and ice cream products. 

The current round of the Goat & Sheep Dairy Supply Chain Development Grant focuses on the development or expansion of goat and/or sheep dairy products or markets.  Open to dairy farmers, processors, producer associations/dairy councils, and technical assistance providers in all Northeast states.

Awards will range from $15,000 to $50,000 for Individual Business Grants and $25,000 to $75,000 for Sector Enhancement Grants with a 25% match commitment. Applications close June 6. Learn how to apply here.

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