In The News


DGA Welcomes Laura Paine as Program Director

DGA is pleased to welcome long-time grazing and organic advocate, Laura Paine, as Program Director. She joins the team at just the right time–with its new national status DGA is really taking off!

June 23 2015

Medford, WI - Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship (DGA) announced today that it is bringing on Laura Paine as Program Director.

A long-time advocate for grazing-based farming, Paine will support DGA's growth into a national program from its roots in Wisconsin. “Our new status as a National Apprenticeship under the U.S. Department of Labor and anticipated growth into new states means that we need more capacity to manage the program and support our Masters and Apprentices,” said Joe Tomandl, III, the program's founder and Executive Director. “Laura comes to us with a wide range of skills from pasture management to grant writing. We're very pleased to have her on board.”

“Dairy farming is a very complex occupation-a skilled trade, and DGA is the only place where aspiring dairy farmers can get comprehensive, structured, and accredited work-based training, similar to what a carpenter or electrician receives,” said Paine. “I am excited to be a part of this innovative program.” Paine will be managing the day-to-day operations of the program, allowing Tomandl to focus on longer term development goals of the organization and spend more time running his own grazing dairy farms.

Based on the system of education used to train skilled workers in the trades, DGA consists of 4000 hours of training over two years. On-the-job training with an experienced Master Dairy Grazier makes up the bulk of the time (3712 hours), which is supplemented by 288 hours of related instruction including formal classes, farming conferences, pasture walks, and discussion groups. Apprentices who complete the program achieve Journey Dairy Grazier status and are capable of advancing into positions of management, equity-earning partnerships, and eventually independent farm ownership.

“We welcome inquiries from aspiring farmers as well as experienced graziers interested in training the next generation of dairy farmers,” said Tomandl. “With the average age of farmers approaching 60 years old, our program provides a pathway to farm ownership for some and an opportunity to transition to the next generation for others.”

Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship is supported in part by a grant from USDA-NIFA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and by other funding partners, industry sponsors, and individuals. For more information on DGA and how you can get involved, visit or contact Joe (715-560-0389 or or Laura (608-338-9039 or

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