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Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship

Dairy farming is an important part of rural economies. Each cow generates approximately $34,000 of economic activity in the local community every year. But new farmers face significant barriers and are not entering the profession at a rate that offsets the loss of retiring producers. The U.S. loses 5-10% of its dairy farms every year. Because the average age of farmers is 59 years old and many do not have an identified successor, farm loss is expected to continue. Meanwhile mid-career dairy graziers who are seeking to expand and improve their business are also faced with a lack of skilled people who can manage a farm.

The Apprenticeship Program began in New York State in 2016, and has appealed to a wide variety of farms across the state. Last fall, New York DGA participated in a video about the program. You can watch the video on YouTube by clicking HERE.

An interested Master must meet the following criteria:

  • Must have five years of successful grazing experience or be a DGA graduate with three years grazing experience beyond the program.
  • Must ensure that Apprentice is trained in core work processes or employ a full-time qualified individual to supervise and train Apprentice.

An interested Apprentice must meet the following criteria:

  • Must have high school diploma or higher or GED, or a composite score of at least 18, or comparable Accuplacer test scores in math and reading.
  • Must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Must be physically able to perform the work of the trade with reasonable accommodations and without hazard to themselves or others.
  • Must have reliable transportation to and from work and school.

You can find more information on the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship website, or reach out to Fay Benson, New York Education Coordinator, at (607) 391-2660 or or Abbie Teeter at (607) 391-2670 or

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