RUSHFORD - Bonnie Haugen hopes to find 10 master graziers and five dairy grazing apprentices in Minnesota by July 1.
The Canton dairy farmer is the Minnesota education coordinator for Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, which is just getting off the ground nationwide after its birth in Wisconsin in 2010.
GrassWorks in Wisconsin received funding from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program to start the apprenticeship program, which only recently received its federal registration.
Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship is now an official two-year apprentice program for a person to learn how to be a grazing dairy farmer.
The program includes guided work experiences, individual networking, peer groups, 4,000 hours of on-the-job training and 288 hours of related instruction.
The goal of the two-year program is to have more beginning grazing dairy farmers in rural communities and to give grazing dairy farmers an option to pass on their operation.
Apprentices must be paid a minimum of $8 per hour to start, which might be cash or in the form of cash and equity within an operation. An apprentice might or might not receive housing. Apprentices train under master graziers who have five years experience as grazing dairy farmers.
For master graziers, the benefits of participating in the program include better employees, the opportunity to expand or transfer the farm and a way to stem farm loss. In addition, the program goals include strengthening dairy infrastructure and rural communities while protecting the environment.
For more about the program, go to dga-national.org
Haugen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-421-7170