DGA is the first accredited Apprenticeship program for farming in the United States.

Do you want to run your own dairy farm?

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

DGA provides a career pathway for aspiring dairy farmers 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.

DGA is a veterans friendly organization and accepts GI Bill™ and other veterans benefits.

The Apprenticeship program consists of fulltime employment, training, and mentorship under an approved Master Dairy Grazier over a period of two years with opportunities for advancement upon completion. A comprehensive DGA Training Manual (or “Job Book”) lays out the competencies that must be met in order to own and operate a managed-grazing dairy farm, providing a blueprint for the mentoring process.

Major work categories are as follows:

  • Measure and manage pastures for optimal quality and quantity
  • Manage cattle appropriately-heifers/dry cows, calves, milking cows
  • Manage milking operations
  • Assess dairy nutritional needs
  • Evaluate grazing and dairy farm information for effective decision making
  • Manage soil and water resources for productivity and health
  • Manage farm business operations profitably

Related Instruction

To enhance on-farm training and provide networking opportunities, the program incorporates classes and other educational opportunities:

  • Courses in Pasture Management, Milk Quality, Herd Health, Dairy Nutrition, and Soils, Nutrients & Composting, and Farm Financial Management
  • Peer Discussion Groups, Pasture Walks, Farming Conferences., and Networking Opportunities
  • Holistic Management and Professional Development Training

Formal courses are taught in online format by accredited partner institutions. (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, and have the option of eventually becoming Masters and taking on Apprentices themselves in this unique farmer training program.

Learn More:

Dairy Grazing Apprentice Master
Dairy Grazier

Transitioning to the next stage

DGA provides business planning services for Apprentices and Masters.

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 165 approved Master Dairy Graziers in 11 states: Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

The program has 40 active Master-Apprentice pairs, 25 Journey Dairy Graziers, and more than 150 Apprentice Candidates seeking to be hired.

MAP of Approved Master Farm Sites

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



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


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