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Iowa Dairy Innovation Grant Program
Iowa Ag Connection - 01/19/2024

Iowa dairy farmers grappling with a shortage of labor are being offered a potential solution through the Dairy Innovation Grant Program. This initiative, eagerly anticipated by the Iowa Dairy Association, aims to promote on-farm dairy processing, cut down on farm labor costs, and enhance the accessibility of Iowa dairy products for consumers, utilizing innovative technologies like milking robots and cow sensors.

Mariah Busta, Executive Director of the Iowa Dairy Association, expressed enthusiasm for the launch of the program, emphasizing its role in fostering innovation within the dairy industry. The grant program, a collaborative effort with the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship, seeks to provide support to Iowa's dairy farms by encouraging the adoption of labor-reducing technologies and on-farm processing.

Busta highlighted the significance of the program in addressing the need for innovation, stating, "The grant program will support Iowa’s dairy farms by addressing the need for innovation - whether through dairy processing or implementing labor-reducing technologies on the farm - plus, give Iowa consumers additional options to support local dairy."

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Naig, underscored the benefits for consumers, emphasizing that the increased availability of locally produced dairy products would result from the cost-sharing opportunities offered to Iowa dairy farms. The Choose Iowa Dairy Innovation Grant Program, with a budget of $750,000 for its inaugural year, is set to match up to $100,000 per project.

The program is designed to assist smaller dairies and farmers, offering cost-share grants for projects related to on-farm processing equipment or labor-saving technology. Examples include investments in pasteurization equipment, processing vats, packaging and labeling products, robots, health monitoring, automated feeding systems, or cleaning assistance.

The program's funds are not intended to cover start-up costs, advertising, public relations, salary/benefits/wages, existing debt, or any expenses incurred before the grant is awarded. Eligible applicants must be located in Iowa, have fewer than 50 employees, and be in good standing with relevant regulatory agencies. Only dairies permitted and inspected by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship are eligible.

The application process is competitive, with a deadline of 12:00 p.m. on Friday, February 9, 2024. Grant recipients will be announced in March 2024. Additional details about the cost-share grant program, including financial matching requirements, application procedures, eligibility criteria, and scoring, can be found on the Choose Iowa website. Interested parties can direct their questions to chooseiowagrant@iowaagriculture.gov.


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