Milk, cream and cheese are made possible by the hard work of dairy farmers. Their work can also be expensive, with large up-front costs, fluctuating markets and lost profits to natural disasters. Dairy farmers can seek funding from grant programs to help them start or expand their businesses, get education about dairy farming or recover from losses.
Future Farmers of America
Middle and high school students who are interested in dairy farming can get an early start with the Future Farmers of America (FFA) Supervised Agricultural Experiences grants. Applicants must be members of the FFA who are in grades seven to 11. They must submit a project description and a picture of their experience. Each project must fall into one of the pathways specified by the FFA; projects that involve raising an animal for dairy or working on a dairy farm may qualify for funding in the Dairy Production pathway.
Beginning Farmers Grants
Inexperienced farmers who want to start up a dairy farm may apply for funding from the United States Department of Agriculture. Its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program offers grants for new farms. Enterprises that are operated by people with fewer than 10 years of experience in farming are eligible to apply, though participants in the project who are not involved in farm operation may be more experienced. The funds can be used to buy equipment or hire farm workers.
Dairy 2020 Early Planning Grant
The Wisconsin Department of Commerce Dairy 2020 Early Planning Grants are awarded to new and established dairy farms in Wisconsin. Eligible farms must be located in communities with populations under 6,000. The awards, which have a maximum limit of $3,000 per applicant, are intended for farmers to hire the services of a financial management professional to create a business plan. Applicants must pay for at least 25 percent of the project using funds from sources other than the state.
Dairy Indemnity Program
Dairy farms that suffer losses due to recalls may be able to recover some of the money. The United States Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency runs the Dairy Indemnity Program, which reimburses farmers with grants for losses that they incur because of recalls as a result of the use of pesticides or other chemicals that were approved by the federal government at the time of use; or the contamination of products by nuclear radiation. The funds from these grants can be used for any purpose.
American Cheese Society Scholarships
Dairy farmers who run a cheese-making business may get scholarships from the American Cheese Society to attend the annual American Cheese Society Conference and Competition. There, they can meet cheese-makers from across the United States, Canada and Mexico; attend sessions on cheese-making; and enter the Society's annual cheese competition. Full scholarships include conference registration, a hotel stay and up to $500 in travel expenses. In addition, several partial scholarships are awarded each year that defray the cost of the recipient's conference registration.