Funds Still Available to Support Dairies Seeking to Modernize, Diversify

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UTIA and TDA Now Accepting Round 2 Applications for Tennessee Dairy Business Innovation Grants

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Funding to assist the state’s dairy businesses is still up for grabs.

After the first round of funding announced in December 2020, some funds are still available for dairy businesses in Tennessee. As part of a recent grant from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, the University of Tennessee Department of Animal Science and the Center for Profitable Agriculture have teamed with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to support eligible Tennessee dairies as they seek to modernize and diversify their operations. Approximately $62,000 of the original $227,000 is still available for subawards to individual Tennessee dairy businesses, and the application period for the second round of grants is now open.

To qualify for a grant, dairy businesses must use the funds to improve their operations in one of the following three areas:

  • Modernization, specialization, and grazing transition on dairy farms
  • Value chain and commodity innovation and facility and/or process updates for dairy processors
  • Dairy product development, packaging, and/or marketing.

Dairy businesses are businesses that develop, produce, market, or distribute dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt and more. Each applicant can apply for a maximum of $25,000 per application until all funds are awarded.

UT Extension Dairy Specialist Liz Eckelkamp is leading the project. She says the goals of the overall grant as well as the subawards are three-fold:

  1. To diversify dairy product markets so as to reduce risk and develop higher-value uses for dairy products
  2. To promote business development that diversifies farmer income through processing and marketing innovation
  3. To encourage the use of regional milk production.

Applicants may apply for funds to receive training, create business or marketing plans, conduct feasibility studies, develop a food safety plan or purchase specialty equipment. Eckelkamp says potential applications for this round of funding should be aware of additional information. “We were pleased to award grant funds to eight outstanding projects during the first round of funding. During Round 2, applications from those projects cannot be considered until the outcomes of a previous grant have been completed.” She adds, “We encourage those actively involved or considering value-added dairy production to apply for funds!”

Anyone who has questions about the program or about allowable expenses or purchases should reach out to Eckelkamp at or Hal Pepper, financial specialist with the UT Center for Profitable Agriculture, at They may also contact Kyle Hensley with TDA ( or Hannah Wright at UT Extension (

Additional information about the program and the application for a subaward can be found online at the TDA website. Click on the menu tab for “Businesses” and follow the link under business development to the Tennessee Dairy Business Innovation Initiative Grants webpage.

The committee will accept applications until July 15, 2021. Depending on the total awards funded and number of applications received, additional application periods may open after July 15, 2021.

Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions.

Media Contact

Liz Eckelkamp

Department of Animal Science


Hal Pepper, UT Center for Profitable Agriculture

Kyle Hensley, Tennessee Department of Agriculture

Hannah Wright, UT Extension Evaluation and Staff Development