Valley dairies have opportunity for grant money

Pacific Coast Coalition Dairy Business Initiative, hosted by Fresno State, is making $300,000 available for dairies in three western states to innovate their business

agriculture industry, farming and animal husbandry concept - herd of cows eating hay in cowshed on dairy farm
Jon Earnest
Published July 15, 2023  • 
3:00 pm

REEDLEY – Dairies in the Central Valley soon will have an opportunity to obtain some financial assistance in growing their businesses.

The Pacific Coast Coalition (PCC) Dairy Business Initiative, hosted by California State University in Fresno, next month will grant funding to dairy producers and processors in three western states – California, Oregon and Washington. These states are looking to become more innovative in today’s industry.

Applications are being accepted beginning Tuesday, Aug. 1, and can be submitted through Friday, Sept. 29. Officials with the PCC initiative say the grant money.

“In this round for new or used equipment, we encourage applications up to $50,000 so more businesses may benefit,” PCC Project Director Carmen Licon Cano said. “Past grant winners have purchased items like butter churns, pasteurizers and other items that have increased the profile of dairy while filling a demand for local and artisanal products.”

Nancy Van Leuven with the PCC initiative said the grant money provides dairies with the opportunity to replace or upgrade equipment to serve their particular needs. The grant money is limited to purchase of equipment or supplies, and cannot be used for actual buildings or structures.

“A lot want to diversify the products they provide,” she said, saying that dairies may wish to expand operations from just milk production to cheese and other dairy-related products.

A past grant recipient, WonderCow from Madera, provides a prime example of the grant’s innovative assistance goal. The dairy has developed a powdered form of colostrum, the first form of breastmilk that is released by the mammary glands after giving birth. It’s nutrient-dense and high in antibodies and antioxidants to build a newborn baby’s immune system. WonderCow Colostrum is a dietary supplement that’s considered a superfood for new mothers.

In addition to WonderCow, California dairies or dairy producers that received some of the $4 million in recent grant fund money are Alexandre Family Creamery (Crescent City); Foggy Bottoms Boys (Ferndale); Drake Family Farms (Ontario); Leo Leo Gelato (Paso Robles); OutWest (Willows); Rocky Oaks Goat Creamery (Clovis); Rumiano Cheese (Willows); Stepladder Creamery (Cambria) and Valley Ford Cheese & Creamery (Valley Ford).

This latest funding is open to the three West Coast states, affectionately termed COW. But a larger additional amount of funding will be available next year, according to PCC “Cowkeeper” Susan Pheasant.

The larger funding opportunity will begin in January, with at least $4.1 million available for more states:  Arizona; California; Nevada; New Mexico; Oregon; and, Washington. This fourth round of funding will include pandemic recovery (such as price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19), as the majority of those monies are derived from the federal CARES Act.

To help potential applicants with the August-September funding, Pacific Coast Coalition will host two 2023 virtual “Office Hours” on Thursday, Aug. 10, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday, Sept. 8, also from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The PCC initiative is funded through the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and hosted by Fresno State in collaboration with Cal Poly Humboldt, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Chapman University, Chico State, Oregon State University, UC Davis, Washington State University, and the California Dairy Innovation Center. Van Leuven said the university has a tight-knit partnership with Cal Poly, Oregon State and Washington State.

For more information on the initiative, go online to

Jon Earnest