Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship (DGA) is an innovative 501c3 non-profit organization that partners with established grazing dairy farmers, universities, community based organizations, and other stakeholders to deliver high quality work-based training in managed-grazing dairy production in multiple states.
Dairy farming is an important part of rural economies. Each cow generates approximately $34,000 of economic activity in the local community every year. But new farmers face significant barriers and are not entering the profession at a rate that offsets the loss of retiring producers. The U.S. loses 5-10% of its dairy farms every year. Because the average age of farmers is 59 years old and many do not have an identified successor, farm loss is expected to continue. Meanwhile mid-career dairy graziers who are seeking to expand and improve their business are also faced with a lack of skilled people who can manage a farm.
The first formal Apprenticeship for farming in the nation was created by and for farmers to address these challenges. Using the model of education that has prepared skilled workers in the trades for more than a century, DGA combines work-based training with related instruction for the federally recognized occupation of “Dairy Grazier.” A dairy grazier is a farmer who uses managed grazing. In managed grazing systems the majority of farm acres are planted to perennial forages and cows are rotated through paddocks of high quality grasses that are allowed to rest and regrow. Using this cost effective method, dairy graziers are able to restore natural resources, produce high quality milk, and remain profitable in both conventional and value-added markets.
PROGRAM AND ORGANIZATION
Established as a state-level Apprenticeship program in Wisconsin in 2010, DGA became an independent nonprofit organization in 2013, and registered its program as a National Apprenticeship with the U.S. Department of Labor - Employment and Training Administration in 2015. The development of DGA has been supported by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans Competitive Grants Program (AgVets) and by other funding partners, industry sponsors, and individuals. To find more resources and programs for beginning farmers and ranchers please visit New Farmers and Farm Answers websites, which are projects of BFRDP.
DGA is dedicated to providing a guided pathway to dairy farm business ownership, developing grazing careers, and strengthening the economic and environmental well-being of rural communities and the dairy industry.
We accomplish this mission by:
- Linking current and aspiring graziers in the transfer of farms and graziers skills and knowledge.
- Developing alliances with agricultural, environmental, and consumer groups.
- Providing opportunities for farmers and their customers to invest in the next generation of grazing farmers.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY PLEDGE
Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship will not discriminate against apprenticeship applicants or apprentices based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), sexual orientation, genetic information, or because they are an individual with a disability or a person 40-years old or older. Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship will take affirmative action to provide equal opportunity in apprenticeship and will operate the apprenticeship program as required under Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 30.
For subawards and agreements where DGA provides financial support to a partner, facilities, and administration costs (indirect) will not be paid to governmental agencies or universities.