The Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship (DGA) is seeking beginning dairy farmers interested in on-the-job training on well-managed grazing-based dairies in Missouri. DGA Education Coordinator Duane Kaiser shared information on the program at the recent Missouri Dairy Grazing Conference in Springfield.

“This is a great opportunity help train the next generation of dairy farmers,” said Kaiser, a dairy farmer and high school agriculture teacher from Monett. “We have had a lot of interest from dairymen who want to sign up as Master Dairy Graziers. Now we need to identify Apprentices to place on these farms.”

 Recently accredited by the U.S. Department of Labor, DGA is a formal Apprenticeship similar to those for carpentry or plumbing. “This is the first ever Apprenticeship for farming in the U.S,” said Laura Paine, Program Director for the Wisconsin-based DGA. The Apprenticeship 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). In addition, 288 hours of related instruction are required, including formal classes, farming conferences, pasture walks, and discussion groups.

 “We are pleased to be able to partner with the University of Missouri to offer their online Pasture Based Dairy Production course for our Missouri Apprentices,” said Joe Tomandl, the program’s founder and Executive Director.

 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. “Dairy farmers aren’t getting any younger,” said Kaiser. “Our program provides a pathway to farm ownership for some and an opportunity to transition to the next generation for others. I encourage people interested in the program to contact me or visit the website.”

 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 Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship and how you can get involved, visit or contact Duane (417-235-2528 or [email protected]) or DGA Executive Director Joe Tomandl (715-560-0389or [email protected]).


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