Substantial Funding Is a Catalyst for Dairy Sector Resiliency
November 8, 2023| Montpelier, VT – Dairy processors across the Northeast are receiving a catalytic investment. The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC) announced today 35 businesses selected for awards through the Existing Dairy Processor Expansion Grant.
With total funding of $12,287,001 across eight states, individual awards range from $25,852 to $1million. Those selected for awards represent processors of all sizes: from farmstead creameries to multi-state businesses and co-ops.
This one-time infusion of funding is a direct result of the Northeast Dairy Taskforce, convened by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, at the request of USDA Secretary Vilsack. Charged to provide an actionable response to Danone/Horizon cutting milk contracts with Northeast dairy farmers, the regional taskforce recommended investing “catalytic levels of funding into existing successful track-record processors positioned to scale production quickly.”
The USDA subsequently awarded the NE-DBIC an additional $20 million to address the stability and viability of Northeast regional dairy. The Existing Dairy Processor Expansion Grant does just that, funding specialized equipment to help processors increase the use of regionally sourced milk and expand regional dairy processing capacity.
“USDA is proud to be a partner with Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets in their ongoing efforts to support the region’s dairy businesses through the Northeast Dairy Business Initiative,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “This funding will expand markets for dairy producers, ensure a steady supply of dairy products to consumers, and make significant contributions to the region’s economy.”
Over 3,200 dairy farmers will benefit from this processing expansion, stabilizing and expanding options for their milk and increasing the amount of local dairy on store shelves through the Northeast.
“Dairy delivers for Vermont and the Northeast. Our farmers are committed to producing a high-quality product, but they need support. These investments are great for our processors, farmers and consumers,” said Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts. “By investing in new and existing products these grants will keep milk, butter, cheese, yogurt and ice cream in our stores, schools and homes. We are grateful for the support from USDA & Congress for this partnership.”
“Pennsylvania dairy farmers are the backbone of our state’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry,” Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Most of our 5,000 dairy farms are small. But collectively, they pack a huge impact in innovation and industry leadership. These seven producers embody that tenacious, competitive spirit that makes Pennsylvania great, and we are pleased that the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center has chosen to support their expansion.”
Through a rigorous selection process, applicants were divided into three tiers based on production volume. Successful applicants in Tiers 1 and 2 went through two written applications, followed by a virtual presentation of their projects. Tier 3 applicants asking for over $150,000 also gave virtual presentations. Each application was reviewed by a minimum of three dairy sector experts from across the Northeast.
Selected recipients include processors in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
The following dairy processors have been selected as recipients of the grant:
- Casco Bay Butter Company, Inc, Tier 2, will upgrade and expand their bulk butter processing line, which increase their capacity by 300% and move 100% of in-house butter sourcing back to the Northeast region.
- Giffords Ice Cream, Tier 2, will install equipment to expand their 16oz retail line of ice cream to create greater efficiency and increase their retail product volume.
- Balfour Farm, LLC, Tier 3, will install larger, efficient processing equipment, including a cold smoking system, to increase their product line by 22%.
- Cosmic Goat Farm and Creamery, Tier 3, will install milk handling and storage equipment and specialized cheese production equipment to increase capacity and meet demand for their products.
- Agri-Mark Inc dba Cabot Cooperative Creamery, Tier 1, will install equipment to increase regional balancing capacity and decrease energy cost, allowing their West Springfield plant to process an additional 77 million pounds of whole milk annually.
- Cooper’s Hilltop Farm, Tier 3, will install larger pasteurizer and ice cream equipment to expand processing and product range.
- Grey Barn Farm, Tier 3, will install a larger cheesemaking vat and secondary equipment to increase production capacity, effiency, and new products.
- Mapleline Farm, Tier 3, will install a new dispenser bag filler to increase accuracy and efficiency, and expand heavy cream and ice cream mix sales for institutional customers.
- McNamara Dairy, Tier 2, will install new equipment to increase efficiency, speed, and safety of their processing system.
- Super Secret Ice Cream, Tier 3, will purchase new production and storage equipment, which will allow them to increase production by 33%.
- Swallow Ridge Farm, Tier 3, will purchase a larger pasteurizer, along with other specialized equipment, to double their daily cheese production.
- Valley Shepherd, Tier 3, will purchase specialized glass pot packaging equipment to expand their sheep milk yogurt sales throughout the region.
- Byrne Dewitt LLC, Tier 1, will install a UHT processing system dedicated to current and future ESL and aseptic production.
- Chaseholm Farm Creamery, Tier 2, will expand their processing area and install a modern modular soft cheese production line, increasing their yield by 100% over three years.
- Ronnybrook Farm, Tier 2, will install specialized equipment to increase production capacity by 50%.
- Trinity Valley, LLC, Tier 2, will expand their bottled milk and cheese product lines to meet regional market demand.
- Roc-Star Ice Cream Products, Inc, Tier 3, will install equipment that will allow them to improve efficiencies and double capacity.
- Clover Farms Dairy LLC, Tier 1, will increase raw milk storage to purchase and segregate milk from New Jersey dairy farmers. This product will be packaged into Class I pints and sold to K to 12 school districts throughout New Jersey, bringing NJ milk to NJ students.
- Turner Dairy Farms, Tier 1, will install a new clean in place system to increase efficiency, reduce water use, natural gas and electricity consumption, and prepare the plant for their next major processing and packaging expansion.
- Backpack Yogurt, Tier 2, will install a fully automated yogurt filler to expand their shelf stable yogurt production.
- Pleasant Lane Farms Creamery LLC, Tier 2, will expand their wheel and brine cheese capacity to support product expansion and new product launches for regional and extra-regional markets.
- Anonymous Plain Sect Cheesemaker, Tier 3, will install an advanced cheese processing system to improve food safety, energy efficiency, and increased production capacity.
- God’s Country Creamery, Tier 3, will install a pasteurizer to expand sales of regionally sourced milk across northern Pennsylvania, creating long-term farm sustainability and providing dairy products to the local food desert.
- Perrystead Dairy LLC, Tier 3, will expand into a new facility, installing equipment to quadruple production of both aged cheeses and fresh spreadable cheeses for nationwide sale.
- Wright’s Dairy Farm, Tier 3, will install specialized equipment to improve worker safety and food safety, increase their processing capacity by 15%, and decrease packaging costs by 1.5%.
- Agri-Mark Inc dba Cabot Cooperative Creamery, Tier 1, will automate their cracker cut cheddar cheese line and double the capacity of the line to 12+ million pounds of cheese annually.
- Cellars at Jasper Hill, Tier 2, will expand their cold storage facilities to create additional space to receive milk and make cheese.
- Maplebrook Farm, Tier 2, will install equipment to increase yield and their ability to process more fluid milk.
- Vermont Farm and Cheese Collaborative L3C, Tier 2, will re-open a closed dairy processing plant to produce a variety of private label cheeses.
- Vermont Farmstead Cheese Co, Tier 2, will increase their capacity for soft and hard cheesemaking which will increase their raw milk intake by 30%.
- Wilcox Ice Cream, Tier 2, will install modern automated ice cream equipment to increase product volume and efficiency.
- Ice House Farm, Tier 3, will expand their farmstead goat dairy cheese processing capacity by purchasing and installing a custom designed cheese aging system.
- Larson Farm, Tier 3, will replace their yogurt filler with a new, larger model to increase labor efficiency and product quality.
- lulu Artisan Ice Cream, Tier 3, will overhaul their current ice cream plant to increase and streamline ice cream and gelato production.
- Parish Hill Creamery, Tier 3, will expand their cheese aging capacity and streamline processing.
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