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School For Beginning Dairy Farmers Calls For 1999-2000 Applicants

Young people interested in dairy farming have until Oct. 15 to apply for an innovative program, now in its fifth 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, and private dairy industry sources.

“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 Friday, Oct. 15.

For individuals interested in the 17-week grass-based dairy seminar only, distance education options are available. The seminar is available by internet hookup through county UW-Extension offices or participants” home computers. In its second year, this is the first class in CALS to be offered by distance education. The cost to participants for the distance education/grazing seminar option is about $300, with the balance of the costs covered by support from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, UW Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, Great Lakes Grazing Network, UW-Madison Integrated Pest Management Program, and Center for Dairy Profitability.

To register for or learn more about the school or the distance learning options, 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:

WSBDF will have an information table at Farm Progress Days July 13 to July 15, as part of the Farm and Industry Short Course booth and also as part of the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems display. Stop by to find out more about the school!