DGA is the first registered Apprenticeship for farming in the United States.

Find an option that works for you. Apprenticeship or DGA Internship Program

Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship is a National Apprenticeship registered with the U.S. Department of Labor-Employment and Training Administration. This innovative program consists of full-time paid employment, comprehensive training in all aspects of running a managed grazing dairy operation, and the experience needed to transition to dairy farm business ownership.

DGA provides a career pathway for aspiring dairy farmers, managers, and entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, with different levels of experience. The program is also ideal for established dairy graziers who want to develop a current employee as a manager or partner as well as for family members seeking a structure of support to prepare for farm transfer.


At the core of the two-year Apprenticeship is 3700 hours of on-farm employment and training under an approved Master Dairy Grazier with opportunities for advancement upon completion. A comprehensive DGA Training Guidelines lays out the competencies that must be met in order to own and operate a managed-grazing dairy farm or business, providing a blueprint for the mentoring process.

Major work categories are as follows:

  • Manage dairy cattle in a grazing system
  • Manage milking operations
  • Manage dairy cattle nutritional requirements
  • Manage pastures for optimal production
  • Manage natural resources in a grazing system
  • Manage farm business operations to meet goals

Related Instruction

Core courses have been developed specifically for Apprentices and are taught in an online format through Managed Grazing Innovation Center to enhance on-farm training and provide networking opportunities. The program incorporates 300 hours of related instruction:

  • Courses in Dairy Cattle Nutrition, Feeds & Feeding, Milk Quality, Dairy Cattle Health & Wellness, Soil & Water Resources Management, Farm Financial Management, and Managed Grazing Systems for Dairy Cattle
  • Peer Discussion Groups, Pasture Walks, Farming Conferences, and Networking Opportunities
  • Holistic Management and Professional Development Training

Note: Apprentices are responsible for their own tuition, which is approximately $1,500 over two years and subject to change.

Each Master-Apprentice pair is assigned a local Education Coordinator, who monitors the mentoring relationship and provides educational support and on-farm technical services. Apprentices not only gain skills, knowledge, and experience but also develop relationships with Apprentices and Masters in their cohort as well as with other dairy farmers, agricultural professionals, and service providers in the local community.

Apprentices graduate to certified Journey Dairy Grazier status, receive additional support services as they advance in their career as Herd Manager/ Pasture Manager/ Feed or Hay Manager/ Heifer or Young Stock Manager. The long-term option is also available for graduates to transition into farm ownership, become Masters themselves, and take on new Apprentices.

DGA Internship Program

The shorter Pre-Apprenticeship Internship allows Masters and potential Apprentices to test a relationship before committing to a full Apprenticehship. It also provides students with an opportunity to learn about managed grazing dairy production while they are still in school.

  • Interns work under and are mentored by approved Master Dairy Graziers.
  • Courses taken during Internship may be credited toward Apprenticeship related unstruction hours.
  • Internship work hours may be applied toward Apprenticeship training hours.
  • A DGA Education Coordinator provides guidance and oversight during the internship.
  • For additional information see the Internship Insert

To be considered, just choose the Pre-Apprenticeship Internship option when you fill out the Apprentice application.

Learn More:

Dairy Grazing Apprentice Master
Dairy Grazier

Transitioning to the next stage

DGA curriculum includes a 12-week Farm Business Management course.

DGA is an approved vendor for Farm Service Agency's borrower training program required for FSA beginning farmer loan agreements.

Opportunities are available to Journey Dairy Graziers to advance into management, equity earning, farm start-up or farm transfer.

DGA is an approved vendor for Farm Services Agency.

DGA Today

DGA currently has 185 approved Master Dairy Graziers in 15 states: Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

The program has 40 active Master-Apprentice pairs, 35 Journey Dairy Graziers, and more than 100 Apprentice Candidates seeking to be hired.

MAP of Approved Master Farm Sites

Managed Grazing Innovation Center

Featured Farms

Job Board

DGA Contact

DGA is proud to support current and former service members who are interested in getting started in dairy farming. The GI Billâ„¢ and other veterans benefits are accepted.

Veterans Liaison
Matthew Keesling

Veterans Brochure


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:

General Program Brochure
Internship Insert
MGIC Insert

See our full MEDIA KIT for more downloads.

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