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Application Closed

At this time, the next round of the Dairy Industry Impact grant has not been scheduled. This webpage will be updated when more information is available.

Award Benefits and Terms
  • Reimbursement grants of up to $250,000 each (for eligible expenses) will be awarded.
  • Successful applicants must accept the award in writing as well as submit their Employer Identification Number (EIN) for verification.
  • Successful applicants will be reimbursed in full based on eligible expenses listed in the award letter upon providing valid documentation of payment (e.g., canceled checks, paid invoices, etc.).
  • All reimbursement submittals must occur within 12 months of the date of award unless an extension has been requested and approved.
  • Recipients must complete the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA) six-month and twelve-month surveys. Failure to submit reports on time may result in reduced funding.

Applicants must satisfy the following criteria to be deemed eligible for Dairy Industry Impact grants:

  • Must operate a dairy farm or dairy manufacturing or processing facility in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, or Wisconsin by the time of the application.
  • All organizations, partners or related affiliates of applicant must have physical locations within the five-state DBIA region, and all activities must be carried out within this region.
  • Must have a proposal that strives to show that the goal of the research aligns with at least one of the stated DBIA goals below:
    • Dairy farm diversification through dairy product development, specialization, packaging and/or marketing strategies.
    • Creation of value-added dairy products. (e.g., use of milk to manufacture cheese, yogurt, beverages, ingredients, etc.).
    • Enhance the value of a dairy commodity or byproduct through product development or alternate use (e.g., converting liquid whey permeate for animal feed into a product for human consumption).
    • Creation or expansion of a program that assists exporting dairy products.
  • The applicant must be a for-profit entity in the dairy industry.
  • The applicant will need to specify the roles and responsibilities of any partnering organizations, the location of the research resources and expertise provided, and the identification of the primary investigator. The location of the research and/or related activities must be within the five state DBIA region.
  • The applicant must have no immediate family members (mother, father, brother, sister, spouse, or children) working for CDR, WCMA, or serving on the grant review committee.

Application Components

Step 1: Abstract

The online application includes:

  1. Contact Information
  2. Business Profile
  3. Project Abstract:
  • What is the issue you are trying to solve? Why is this problem important to the dairy industry and why should it be addressed now? That is, what makes the proposed project significant?
  • What are the innovative approaches and potential for groundbreaking impacts? How will it be transformative for the field?
  • What are the expected outcomes?
  • What are the resources and capability of the applicant and partners, if applicable, that will be able to support this project?
  • What is the timeline and amount of funding requested for this project?

The following are examples of the types of activities the DBIA would like to see in a project abstract:

• Feasibility studies: marketing, bench-top, pilot plant trials, manufacturing, etc.

• Scale up and commercialization activities

• Clinical trials

• The use of business consultants whose expertise contributes to the potential success of the research

• Business consulting for strategy development that benefits a region or industry sector, i.e. developing regional/sector targeted marketing or export strategies

Step 2: Comprehensive Proposal

Upon request, applicants will be asked to complete the 2nd step of the application.

  • Narrative (maximum 5 pages) to provide more detail on the initial project proposal
    • Detailed instructions can be found below. In addition to the narrative document, one page of references (i.e. citations, patents, etc.) may be provided. If tables and charts are included in the narrative, the narrative document may include 6 pages maximum.
  • Project Management Budget (use of the provided template required)
  • 1-page budget justification
  • Project Management Timeline (use of the provided template required)
  • Optional: letters of support, vendor quotes

The narrative should address ALL of the following:

  • The opportunity, question, or issue at hand
  • The specific aims and approaches to the opportunity, question, or issue
  • The proposed start and end dates of the project
  • The major tasks that the applicant and any partners, if applicable, will complete
  • How the award money will leverage the capabilities and resources of each partner to increase the likelihood of project success.
  • The innovative vision, potential for impact and significance of the project. How will this project be transformative to the dairy industry and how far will this transformation reach?
  • How potential risks and challenges will be managed.
  • A statement of the expected outcomes of the proposed activities and explanation of how these activities will support future industry innovation, including a definition of success in terms of the state opportunity, question or issue.
  • How will the applicant share the results of the project with the wider dairy industry? This should address any questions around exclusivity, patents, access to sites, etc.

If you need assistance completing the application, please contact the DBIA Program Coordinator as soon as possible at or 608-301-7751.

Helpful Hints

Before the application opens

Please contact DBIA staff to discuss any potential projects prior to submitting an abstract.

During the application period

  • The main application components must be submitted directly on the application form (unless otherwise specified). While you may begin to prepare documents and gather information before the application form is available, please be prepared to enter the information directly onto the form.
  • The project management budget should be realistically completed. This is not an operating budget, but a project management budget that demonstrates what it will take to complete the project presented in the application from a financial perspective.
  • Applications should contain estimates on the intended business impacts of the grant funds.
  • Applicants must be willing to share the results of the grant project with the wider dairy industry.
Evaluation Criteria

Applications will be scored individually by a grant review committee comprised of representatives from CDR and WCMA. Each committee member will assign a score of up to 100 points to each application. All scores will then be averaged, and applications will be ranked according to the average scores.


Is the project/initiative described thoroughly, well-organized and easy to follow?


What specific aspect of the dairy industry’s challenges is the application addressing?

How does the applicant expect to benefit from the project?

How applicable are the project goals to the wider U.S. dairy industry?

How will the project add value across the milk supply chain?


Is the project based on technology that is readily available and needing commercialization or does it need considerable development?

Is the project “stage-gated”? What are the critical points?


How complete is the project budget scope? Are the reimbursable costs clearly aligned with the objectives outlined? Does it include such factors as other sources of funding as well as any planned expenditures such as equipment purchases, professional services costs, etc.?

Where appropriate, are the budget numbers supported by service provider quotes, applicant’s written assumptions, equipment estimates, etc.?

E. OUTCOMES (15 Points)

Does the project provide an estimate of the potential commercial impact along with an expected timeline?

Does the project outline how the wider dairy industry can benefit?

How does the applicant intend to share the benefits from the project?

USDA Eligible and Ineligible Costs

The following summarizes some of USDA-AMS allowable and unallowable costs. The categories listed below were selected based on the most popular grant requests during the previous cycle.

Final decisions regarding eligibility will be based on the AMS published list of allowable/unallowable costs found in the link below. DBIA staff is available to assist with any questions regarding what would qualify as an eligible cost.


Unallowable for the acquisition of buildings, facilities, or land or to make additions, improvements, modifications, replacements, rearrangements, reinstallations, renovations or alterations of an existing building or facility (including site grading and improvement, and architecture fees). This also includes construction and construction-related materials,

Allowable for rental costs of land and building space. However, lease agreements to own (i.e., lease-to-own or rent-to-own) are not allowable. The lease or rental agreement must terminate at the end of the grant cycle.


Allowable subject to limitations below. Contractual/consultant costs are expenses associated with purchasing goods and/or procuring services performed by an individual or organization other than the recipient in the form of a procurement relationship.

Allowable for contractor/consultant employee rates that do not exceed the salary of a GS-15 step 10 Federal employee in the area. This does not include fringe benefits, travel, indirect costs, or other expenses.


Unallowable for acquisition costs of general-purpose equipment or lease agreements to own (i.e., lease-to-own or rent-to-own).

Allowable for rental costs of general-purpose equipment. Vehicles may be leased, but not purchased. The lease or rental agreement must terminate at the end of the grant cycle.

Allowable for acquisition costs and rental costs of special purpose equipment provided specific criteria are met: See Link for details.


General Purpose Equipment means equipment that is not limited to technical activities. Examples include office equipment and furnishings, modular offices, telephone networks, information technology equipment and systems, air conditioning equipment, reproduction and printing equipment, and motor vehicles.

Special Purpose Equipment is equipment used only for research, scientific, or technical activities.


Allowable as part of employee compensation for personnel services in proportion to the amount of time or effort an employee devotes to the grant-supported project or program during the period of performance under the Federal award, including salaries, wages, and fringe benefits. Such costs must be incurred under formally established policies of the organization, be consistently applied, be reasonable for the services rendered, and be supported with adequate documentation.

Unallowable for salaries, wages and fringe benefits for project staff who devote time and effort to activities that do not meet the legislated purpose of the grant program.


Unallowable for costs designed solely to promote the image of an organization, general logo, or general brand.

Unallowable for costs for promotion of specific venues, tradeshows, events, meetings, programs, conventions, symposia, seminars, etc. that do not align with the legislated purpose of the grant program.

Unallowable for promotional items, swag, gifts, prizes, memorabilia, and souvenirs.

Allowable with conditions for projects funded under “Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program” (FMLFPP) for marketing activities directly related to the funded project. Promotional items include point-of-sale materials, promotional kits, signs or streamers, automobile stickers, table tents and place mats.

Allowable for costs designed to promote products that align with the purpose of the grant program.


What are the expectations around sharing the results of the project?

The DBIA expects the for-profit applicant to benefit from the initial access/exclusivity of the research results. However, it is expected that the project’s results and benefits will subsequently be made available to the dairy industry overall. As part of the application, the applicant must discuss the legal arrangement regarding the sharing of results between the partners, the projected exclusivity timeline and the process upon which the results of the project will be published/made available to the industry. Possible examples of this arrangement could include but are not limited to:

  • A for-profit company licensing a technology from a university for a finite period of time.
  • A for-profit company retains the IP internally to the research and keeps exclusivity for a finite period of time before offering the technology to industry.
  • A university publishing the results in a research publication.
  • A for-profit company executing a research agreement with a university, non-profit or entrepreneur. This agreement would reflect who owns the resulting intellectual property and the finite timeframe that the partners will have exclusivity over it until it is released to industry.
  • An agreement between a business consultant and its employers regarding the development of a regional business strategy that creates synergies between multiple for-profit companies to help them achieve their common business goals. This agreement should include the finite time frame that this strategy will remain exclusive between the employers and when the information would be provided to industry.

Can I re-apply if I am not selected for an award? What if I’ve already received a DBIA grant in the past?

Applicants who did not receive an award in a previous cycle are strongly encouraged to re-apply. Applicants who were successful in a previous cycle may also re-apply, but the subsequent application must be for a different project phase or project than the one that was previously awarded.

How many Dairy Industry Impact grants will be awarded?

The number of awards granted will vary depending on the number and quality of the applications received.

Why do you need my EIN?

To ensure that we are good stewards of USDA funding, DBIA must verify that award recipients are businesses in good standing with the IRS before finalizing an award.

Are matching funds required?

While no matching funds are required for this program, we expect the applicants will need to utilize some of their own capabilities and resources. This should be detailed in the application materials.

What if I need to change my proposal after I receive an award?

We understand that circumstances may change between the time of the application for a Dairy Industry Impact grant and the time the funding is awarded. If a successful applicant wishes to change the details of their grant proposal, they must notify the DBIA before the changes are made. A written amendment stating the reasons for the change is required, along with details of the changes and how they affect the application goals. The DBIA will reply in writing to approve or deny the change request. In general, change requests are acceptable, as long as there is no change to the scope of the original application and all funds requested support the original application.

Is the information I submit confidential?

Funding applications and project reports are subject to disclosure to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). DBIA reserves the right to post funded proposals, summary reports, and survey findings in media reports and on our website ( DBIA’s grant review committee will otherwise maintain confidentiality, including of proprietary information included in project proposals. If you have further questions about business confidentiality, please contact DBIA staff.

Can grant funds be used to pay a research partner?

Yes. The use of the funds should be clearly laid out in the application, but the research partner (university or other organization) must be located within the DBIA 5-state region.

Does the work need to occur within the DBIA 5-state region?

Benchtop work, plant trials and scale-up work must be based within DBIA’s 5-state region (IA, IL, MN, SD, WI).

Can a company submit more than one application?

Yes, but we encourage companies to discuss any potential proposals with DBIA staff before submission to ensure eligibility and goal alignment.

Are there any conditions to the award?

A progress report and final report will be required. Periodic updates after the funding ends will be required.

Additionally, by accepting the award, applicants agree that the project details may be shared with USDA. Public notification of approved projects will also make use of the abstract to convey the scope of work undertaken and potential benefits.

Successful applicants may advertise their successful award.

Application Open: Apply Now!

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