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School For Beginning Dairy Farmers Calls For 1998-99 Applicants

Young people interested in dairy farming have until Aug. 3 to apply for an innovative program, now in its fourth year, to help them establish their own grass-based dairy farms in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy Farmers offers qualified students the chance to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course, special training sessions, seminars in the management of grazing-based dairy farms, farm internships, mentoring by experienced graziers and UW faculty, classroom and field experience, and the potential for future support and training.

The only program of its kind in the nation, the school is sponsored by the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences) and UW-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course, in cooperation with GrassWorks, Inc., UW-Extension, the Wisconsin Technical College System, and the Farm Link Service of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Additional support comes from the Mike Cannell Scholarship Fund, UW Foundation WSBDF Fund, USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, and private dairy industry sources.

The school is being called a success by its students, planners, and cooperating farmers. Five students comprising the 1998 class will be recognized at graduation ceremonies on Aug. 4 in Madison. With this momentum, the school”s coordinator is especially excited about the call for applications for the 1998-99 year.

“We”re looking for motivated, energetic, exceptional young people who dream of starting their own grass-based dairy business,” said school coordinator Dick Cates.

“This is a one-of-a-kind program that combines financial support, classroom learning, farmer- and researcher-taught seminars, internships, mentoring, and initial follow-up support to help launch successful business plans. From here, past students have followed a variety of paths, including pursuing apprenticeships, sharemilking arrangements, and actual business start-ups.”

Applications must be received by 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 3. Application packets are available by contacting Cates and the school by phone: (608) 262-5200 or (608) 588-2836; by fax: (608) 265-3020; by mail: Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy Farmers, c/o CIAS, 146 Agriculture Hall, UW-Madison, Madison, WI 53706; or by e-mail: rlcates@facstaff.wisc.edu

People interested in learning more about the program and the application process can talk with Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy Farmers representatives at pasture walks throughout Wisconsin in July, 1998. For a list of these pasture walks, contact the school.

Distance learning options are also available for the winter grazing seminars.