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.
Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship—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.
Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship 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.
PROGRAM AND ORGANIZATION
DGA is 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Its training program is a National Apprenticeship registered with the United States Department of Labor-Employment and Training Administration (DOL-ETA). The development of DGA has been supported in part by 2010, 2011, 2014, and 2017 grants from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA. To find more resources and programs for beginning farmers and ranchers please visit New Farmers and Farm Answers websites, which are projects of BFRDP.
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.
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.