Grants & Financial Resources

The profitability, sustainability, and long-term viability of the dairy industry is fundamental to a healthy economy. WCMA is committed to advocating for targeted investments in dairy farmers and processors, working with state and federal partners to administer grant monies effectively, and sharing available funding opportunities with WCMA members. This page will be continually updated as new grant opportunities and deadlines arise.

Questions can be directed to WCMA Grants & Business Programs Director Danica Nilsestuen at dnilsestuen@wischeesemakers.org or (608) 673-5547.


Upcoming Deadlines:


BUSINESS DEVELOPMENTInternational ExportWorkforce Development

Business Development Resources

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (WDATCP)

NEW! Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) Grants

WDATCP is accepting applications until 5:00 p.m. (CT) Wednesday, March 6, 2024 for the Wisconsin Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) Program.

The program aims to expand capacity and infrastructure for the aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, and distribution of locally- and regionally-produced foods, including dairy products. Funding for the grants is provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A total of $27 million will be awarded through a competitive grant process. The RFSI Program has two grant tracks: the Infrastructure Grant and the Equipment-Only Grant. Applicants may only apply for one track.

Infrastructure Grants will range from $100,000 to $3 million. This grant can fund:

    • Capital investments such as construction, equipment (e.g. delivery vehicles, frozen or refrigerated storage, value-added food processing equipment, or other equipment for middle-of-the food supply chain activities);
    • Building renovations;
    • Facility design or engineering;
    • Staff time;
    • Modernizing systems (e.g. tracking, storage, information technology, etc.);
    • Plan development (e.g. Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point plan); and
    • Market development

A match is required for Infrastructure Grants and starts at 50% of the total project cost. However, if the main applicant qualifies as underserved, the match requirement will be reduced to 25% of the total project cost.

Equipment-Only Grants will range from $10,000 to $99,999. This grant can only fund equipment, per the examples provided above. Equipment may be new, used, or refurbished. No match is required for Equipment-Only Grants.

Questions about the program can be emailed to RFSI@wisconsin.gov.

DETAILS AND APPLICATION

Dairy Processor Grants

The Dairy Processor Grants foster innovation, improve profitability and sustain the long-term viability of Wisconsin’s dairy processing facilities. Eligible applicants must operate a licensed dairy processing plant in Wisconsin​n engaged in pasteurizing, processing or manufacturi​ng milk or dairy products. Recipients are chosen through a competitive process. A total grant up to $50,000 is available per dairy processor per year. The dairy processor is required to provide a match of at least 20 percent of the grant amount.​ Grant applications are customized by each processor and can be used to​ hire con​sultants to add​ress a wide range of business needs including food safety, staff training or modernization.

Awards: Up to $50,000 each

Frequency: Annual

Current application period: Closed October 13.

DETAILS AND APPLICATION

Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin

Launched in 2008, the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin competitive grant program is designed to strengthen Wisconsin’s agricultural and food industries by working to reduce the marketing, distribution, and processing hurdles that impede the expansion of sales of Wisconsin’s food products to loca​l purchasers.​ A total of $300,000 is available in grant funding through the program; the maximum award for each project is $50,000, and grant applicants must​ provide a cash or in-kind match of at least 50 percent of the total project budget. Generally, qualified applicants include individuals, groups or businesses involved in Wisconsin production agriculture, food processing, food distribution, food warehousing, retail food establishments or agricultural tourism operations. Proposals can include individual projects, collaborations or partnerships.

Awards: Up to $50,000 each

Frequency: Annual

Current application period: Closed March 31, 5:00 p.m.

DETAILS AND APPLICATION

Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA)

Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives, the DBIA is a partnership between the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) and the Center for Dairy Research, serving dairy farmers and dairy processors in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. DBIA offers two reimbursement grant programs:

Dairy Business Builder Grants

Dairy Business Builder Grants are designed for small to medium dairy businesses. Eligible projects diversify on-farm activity, create value-added products, enhance dairy by-products, or boost export programs.

Awards: Up to $100,000 each

Frequency: Twice per year

Next application period: August, 2024

DETAILS AND APPLICATION

Dairy Industry Impact Grants

Dairy Industry Impact Grants are geared toward dairy product manufacturers that want help developing an innovative idea or tackling a challenge with the potential to advance the dairy industry. 

Awards: Up to $100,000 each

Frequency: Annual

Next application period: August, 2024

DETAILS AND APPLICATION

Click below to hear firsthand experiences from DBIA grant recipients on ways the program has delivered meaningful growth for their businesses!

Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives (DBII)

These initiatives support dairy businesses in the development, production, marketing and distribution of dairy products. Located across the country, the DBII provide direct technical assistance and grants to dairy businesses, including niche dairy products, such as specialty cheese, or dairy products derived from the milk of a dairy animal, including cow, sheep and goat milk. Dairy processors across the country can access DBII funds via four regional initiatives:

Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA) (see above)

Eligible states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin

Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC)

Eligible states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont

Grant Funding Calendar 

Dairy Business Innovation Initiative – Pacific Coast Coalition

Eligible states: Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington

Dairy Processor Grants:  Open January 2nd, applications due February 29th, 2024

Tennessee Dairy Business Innovation Initiative (TN DBII)

Eligible states: Tennessee

USDA Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program

This program helps agricultural producers enter value-added activities to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income.This may include dairy cooperatives or dairy businesses that have or utilize a farm in their operations. 

Awards: Up to $75,000 each for Planning Grants; up to $250,000 each for Working Capital Grants. A 100 percent match is required.

Current application deadline: Closed May 11, 2023 for electronic applications; May 16, 2023 for paper applications.

DETAILS AND APPLICATION

USDA Broadband Technical Assistance (BTA) Program

This program aims to support technical assistance projects including feasibility studies, network designs, and the development of broadband financial assistance applications.

Awards: Varies by applicant type; total of $20 million available.

Current application deadline: 11:59 p.m. (ET) June 20, 2023

DETAILS AND APPLICATION


International Export Resources

Wisconsin

Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA)

Dairy Export Consultation Program

Supported by funding from the Wisconsin Initiative for Agricultural Exports through the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (WDATCP), WCMA offers free consultative services with MCT Dairies, Inc. to dairy processors interested in launching or expanding their export endeavors.

Awards: Up to 30 hours of no-cost consultative services

Current application deadline: Rolling basis through December 2024

Dairy exporters utilizing these free consultation hours are also eligible for up to $15,000 each to support certain activities associated with strengthening their presence in international markets: 

  • Social media and marketing campaigns 
  • Shipping and logistics costs for buyer samples 
  • Costs related to in-store demonstrations, retail sampling, and merchandising 

DOWNLOAD APPLICATION

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC)

International Market Access Grants (IMAG)

Through the International Market Access Grants, Wisconsin companies can be reimbursed for specific expenses associated with an export project that will help to grow their presence in an international market. This may include trade show attendance, marketing and promotion, export education, and/or consulting services.

Awards: Up to $25,000 with a limit of six awards for graduates of the ExporTech™ program; up to $10,000 with a limit of three awards for all other eligible applicants

Frequency: Rolling basis. Companies are encouraged to apply as soon as possible after July 1 of each year.

DETAILS AND APPLICATION

Collaborative Market Access Grants (CMAG)

Collaborative Market Access Grants (CMAG) offer new and experienced Wisconsin dairy exporters funding to grow their global market presenceAwards may be used for the following trade show expenses: 

  • Registration and booth expenses for an international trade show/exhibit 
  • Registration for international conferences/meetings where the company is presenting and having business meetings to increase its international exports 
  • Shipping charges to and from the show for booth, display, samples, literature and/or equipment 
  • In-country interpreter services during an approved trip
  • Costs associated with foreign-language translation of brochures and supporting materials at a trade show
  • Design services, printing, marketing and advertising associated with trade show participation

CMAG funds are available to industry associations, alliances, agencies, nonprofits, regional economic development organizations or other state/local departments located in Wisconsin to work with Wisconsin companies.

Awards: Up to $150,000 to provide assistance of no more than $15,000 per Wisconsin company per grant.

Frequency: Rolling basis. Companies are encouraged to apply as soon as possible after July 1 of each year.


Workforce Development Resources

Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD)

Wisconsin Fast Forward: Industry Sectors Worker Training Grants

The Industry Sectors Worker Training Grants through the Wisconsin Fast Forward program award funds to businesses from all Wisconsin industry sectors that reimburse the costs of customized occupational training for unemployed, underemployed, and incumbent workers. The customized, business-driven training will qualify workers for full-time employment, higher level employment, or increased wages. Approximately $2 million in total funding is available. Cash or in-kind match equal to 50% of the amount of the grant award is required.

Awards: $5,000-$40,000 each

Frequency: Annual

Current application period: Closed

DETAILS AND APPLICATION