WCMA Applauds Senate Ag Farm Bill Proposal; Urges House to Act

Posted By: Grace Atherton Advocacy, WCMA News,

Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) members today cheered the introduction of the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act by the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry, and urged House lawmakers to take action on the bill, which boosts funding for the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives (DBII). 

“Our thanks go to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member John Boozman, and all committee members for recognizing the great impact of DBII by including $36 million in annual funding for the program in their Farm Bill proposal,” said Rebekah Sweeney, WCMA Senior Director of Programs & Policy. “The education, research, and targeted grants delivered by these initiatives make them essential to the U.S. dairy industry’s future stability and strength amid continued market challenges and emerging threats like highly pathogenic avian influenza.” 

Together with the Center for Dairy Research, WCMA administers the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA), one of four DBII centers located throughout the country. Since DBII was launched in the 2018 Farm Bill under the leadership of U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), it has directed $165 million in federal funding to support farmers and processors. 

“Our farmer-owners have benefited from grants from three of the DBII centers nationwide, with each one targeted to addressing regionally-specific needs,” said Adam Warthesen of WCMA member Organic Valley. “As dairy businesses innovate, our national food supply chain and rural communities are strengthened. We appreciate the leadership of lawmakers prioritizing funding to achieve those critical goals.” 

“This program has been life-changing for us, allowing us to build a new a dairy processing business from the ground up and become profitable, while honoring our farmer partners,” said Orphee Paillotin of WCMA member Alpinage Cheese. “We’re encouraged to see members of the Senate offer continuing support via the Farm Bill, because we know it will create opportunity for others like us.” 

"For a small, family-owned business, investing in innovative equipment can be a tall order. The targeted grants DBII offers have made those purchases more feasible for us, allowing us to grow as we continue to take great care of our employees and supply chain partners,” said Ian Behm of WCMA member Pine River Pre-Pack. 

“From the diversification of on-farm revenue streams to processors’ launch of new value-added dairy products and export endeavors, DBII is a catalyst for growth,” said Sweeney.  “We urge House Agriculture Committee leaders to take action in the weeks ahead to ensure the program’s future.” 

WCMA is also encouraging dairy industry leaders to contact their Congressional representatives to advocate for the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives. Visit WisCheeseMakers.org/news/advocacy to complete WCMA’s simple form and reach lawmakers directly.