UTIA Team Continues to Lead Southeast Dairy Business Innovation Initiative

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An Additional $7 Million of Funding Available to Help Regional Dairy Businesses

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Elizabeth Eckelkamp, an associate professor and state dairy Extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, and her multi-institutional team of researchers and specialists received an additional $7.05 million in funding for the Southeast Dairy Business Innovation Initiative (SDBII). This program, funded by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, was established in 2019 through funds allocated under the 2018 Farm Bill. 

The University of Tennessee was one of three successful applicants to this program, the others being Center for Dairy Research in Wisconsin and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Division. In 2022, Fresno State University joined the list of awardees, establishing a nationwide network to facilitate regional efforts to support dairy businesses in the development, production, marketing and distribution of dairy products.

SDBII logo

Since the initial award, Eckelkamp’s team has received more than $38.7 million in funding, resulting in more than $10.4 million awarded back to the dairy community through grant programs focused on planning for new enterprises, investing in processing and dairy production technology, and improving farm infrastructure. Within the recently awarded grant, Eckelkamp and her team of 46 experts will evaluate areas important to animal husbandry and farm sustainability, dairy finances and decision-support tools, and leadership and workforce development.

Eckelkamp’s team at UTIA is partnering with researchers and Extension specialists at North Carolina State University, University of Kentucky, and the  Kentucky Dairy Development Council to address questions around automated calf feeder management, milk component and herd management impacts on farm finances, valuation of greenhouse gas emissions for dairy businesses, engaging communities in dairy opportunities, leadership and educational opportunities for dairy owners and operators, development of checklists and marketing tools, and continued support for internships focused on underrepresented students.

On the opening day of World Dairy Expo, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt spoke at the “Dairy Symposium: Featuring Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives” and highlighted UDSA’s commitment to the dairy industry and additional funding for the four initiatives across the county. Following the announcement, Eckelkamp stated, “We are thrilled to receive continued funding for the Southeast Dairy Business Innovation Initiative. These funds have had a palpable impact on our dairy businesses and have reinvigorated our dairy communities. We know these funds will continue to encourage and improve our regional sustainability.”

The presentation is available online.

For more information on the SDBII program, visit https://sdbii.tennessee.edu/ or email sdbiigrants@utk.edu.  

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture is comprised of the Herbert College of Agriculture, UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch and UT Extension. Through its land-grant mission of teaching, research and outreach, the Institute touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. to Tennesseans and beyond. utia.tennessee.edu.

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Patricia McDaniels

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Elizabeth Eckelkamp, Department of Animal Science