About

about us

Apprenticeship trains the next generation.

Dairy Grazing Apprenticeshp (DGA) is an innovative 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.

THE CHALLENGE

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 SOLUTION

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 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.

MISSION:

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

DGA is an equal opportunity employer. The recruitment, selection, employment, and training of Apprentices during their Apprenticeship, shall be without discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or sexual orientation. The sponsor 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.

INDIRECT POLICY

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.

Skilled people are the key to a prosperous and sustainable future.

DGA Today

DGA currently has 188 approved Master Dairy Graziers in 13 states: Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

The program has 46 active Master-Apprentice pairs, 32 Journey Dairy Graziers, and more than 100 Apprentice Candidates seeking to be hired.

Veterans benefits accepted.

MAP of Approved Master Farm Sites

Do you need more information? Would you like to help bring DGA to your state?

CONTACT DGA

RESOURCES

DGA has developed resource materials to help farmers find, manage, and train Apprentices.

PUBLIC RESOURCES

Do you know someone who might be interested in DGA? Spread the word and share the documents below:

DGA GENERAL PROGRAM BROCHURE

DGA VETERANS BROCHURE

DGA INTERNSHIP

Learn more about the social, economic, and environmental benefits of managed grazing dairy production.

MAKING FOOD GOOD

See our full MEDIA KIT for more downloads.

SUPPORT OUR WORK

Find out how you can SUPPORT DGA and its training program through your donation, sponsorship or investment.

Donate to DGA