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Scool For Beginning Dairy Famers Calls For 1998-99 Applicants

Young people interested in dairy farming have until Oct. 9 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. 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. CDT, Friday, October 9.

For individuals interested in the 16-week grass-based dairy seminar only, distance learning options are available. The school offers 10 people this option on a first-come, first-served basis via a telephone hook-up to participants” home phones. The cost to participants for the distance learning/grazing seminar option is $150, with the balance of the costs covered by support from the UW Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, Center for Dairy Profitability, and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

To learn more about or apply to the school, or to explore or sign up for the distance learning option, call (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