MADISON, WI – The House Committee on Agriculture late Thursday night approved its version of the Farm Bill, voting to maintain current funding authorization for the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives (DBII), a program launched in 2019 that has successfully supported dairy farmers and processors in diversifying, modernizing, and growing their businesses. 

In the last week, over 220 dairy leaders from 31 American states signed a letter written by Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) and Organic Valley, calling on members of Congress not only to maintain, but also to increase DBII funding. 

Congressman Derrick Van Orden (R-WI 03), who serves as a member of the House Ag Committee, entered the dairy leaders’ letter into the official record as he introduced an amendment to provide $36 million in annual authorization for DBII, an amount matching the recently released Senate framework. Van Orden’s amendment was withdrawn, as he secured a commitment from Chairman Glenn Thompson to support DBII as the Farm Bill progresses. 

“While WCMA and many dairy business leaders seek the express inclusion of boosted funding in the House bill, we appreciate Congressman Van Orden’s championship of DBII and trust that Chairman Thompson will work to secure the $36 million in annual support necessary to a maintenance of program impact,” said Rebekah Sweeney, WCMA Senior Director of Programs & Policy. “Inflation and the addition of a fourth innovation center on the West Coast require an increase in Dairy Business Innovation Initiative support, moving forward, to ensure farmers and processors can continue to expand their production and business development, providing greater stability in our food supply chain.” 

WCMA will continue to advocate for members’ Farm Bill priorities, also including an amendment of the Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives Projects to include cheese and yogurt; a mandated biennial cost survey to ensure accurate make allowances in federal orders; a continuation of the Dairy Forward Pricing Program, the protection of common food names for cheeses in trade agreements; and the CURD Act, defining natural cheese. 

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