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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tammy Baldwin's Dairy Business Innovation Act to promote dairy product innovation, provide technical assistance and grants to dairy businesses, gained support and funding on Aug. 1. 

Baldwin introduced the amendment with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and it was debated on the Senate floor to include a $7 million investment for dairy businesses in the Fiscal Year 2019 Agriculture Appropriations bill. The amendment passed 83-15.

“Wisconsin’s dairy businesses are a key driver of our state’s economy, but recently our dairy farmers have faced very challenging times with an oversupply of milk and low milk prices. It’s critical that farmers, cheesemakers and dairy processors have tools to innovate and develop new Made in Wisconsin dairy products to build a brighter future for our dairy farms and drive our rural economy forward,” said Baldwin. “I’m proud to have secured this funding to create new initiatives and expand resources for our dairy businesses to foster innovation, improve their manufacturing practices and reach new markets so Wisconsin’s dairy industry can continue to lead the nation.”

FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative General Manager Jeff Lyon said the wide margin the vote passed by demonstrated "great support for the viability of the dairy industry," coming at a time when the dairy community could use some positive news.

“Cheesemakers and dairy product manufacturers are incredibly talented in making high-quality dairy products that consumers have come to love,” says Lyon. “When faced with challenges, it is important to think outside the box. This legislation allows the dairy industry to do just that — by being creative in the development of new dairy products, expanding production capacity and developing new markets. We believe these are key steps that will help support the milk price in the near future, as well as the long term.”

Building off the success of the Dairy Business Innovation Center, this legislation will spur innovation in dairy businesses and foster the development of new and innovative dairy products, according to a FarmFirst news release. Additionally, existing dairy plants could be modernized and create greater efficiencies while supporting new dairy entrepreneurs. 

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) thanked Baldwin for her successful work "that will create additional dairy innovation grants to help companies expand initiatives that will add more value to the milk farmers produce,” NMPF Presiden Jim Mulhern said. 

Related: Legislation proposed to spur innovation in dairy processing, address oversupply of milk

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Baldwin introduced the Dairy Business Innovation Act in June to establish regional initiatives to spur innovation in dairy businesses to help increase value to the milk farmers produce and expand uses for milk to address oversupply and depressed milk prices.

The legislation was included in the 2018 Senate Farm Bill that passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.

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