Home 5 Ag Stories USDA grant helps Iowa dairy turn dream into reality

USDA grant helps Iowa dairy turn dream into reality

An east central Iowa family dreamed of expanding their farm operation.

One day their dream became a reality, with the help of a federal grant.

Dan and Debbie Takes, of Ely, Iowa, wanted to add a farm-to-table element to their dairy operation. Their children expressed interest in helping turn this idea into a reality. Josie Rozen assisted her parents in establishing the creamery, which was no small feat. Rozen talks about the first steps in helping move this project forward.

“We wanted to wrap our heads around the cost of something like this and take advantage of any resources. Luckily we got in contact with USDA Rural Development. They started talking to us about the value-added producer grant. After they heard (about) what we were trying to achieve, it was a no-brainer for us to look at how this grant could help us. It was the best decision we ever (made), and we had a great experience working with Rural Development,” Rozen said.

The Takes were able to turn a vacant building into a modern day processing facility, with the a value-added producer grant. Rozen shares how the creamery changed things for her family.

“The creamery is everything to us,” Rozen said. “It has allowed us an outlet to create that more sustainable way of farming. With market prices dictating milk prices, it’s challenging for any dairy farmer to reinvest into businesses and farms. We’ve always been passionate about being able to give more to our animals and do more, (and) stay on the cutting edge, and the creamery allows us to do that.”

Rozen encourages farmers looking to add value to their product to do their research, ask questions and ultimately, take a chance.

“Change is hard and scary. But if it feels right and you’ve done the research, I encourage (you) to take that leap of faith,” Rozen said. “We did, and it wasn’t easy. It still isn’t easy, but it’s definitely been worth it. To see how far we’ve come as a family, creamery and farm, is something I can’t imagine us not having done.”

For more information on value-added producer grants, visit www.rd.usda.gov.