Time To Celebrate June Dairy Month!!
June Dairy Month started out as a way to distribute extra milk during the warm months of summer. The commemoration was established in 1937 by grocer organizations sponsoring “National Milk Month.” By 1939, June became the official “dairy month” and is still celebrated today.

In honor of Dairy Month, Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Executive Director, Joe Tomandl reflects on where DGA started, how far we've come and where we are headed...

We've all heard the saying that if you don't have a goal there's plenty of people lined up that have one for you. I remember Tom Cadwallader including this in his words of wisdom for the students in the farm and industry short course grazing seminar in Madison WI. Those words hold true in our personal lives, businesses and organizations. In many ways the same can be said about the value that our managed grazing farms bring to our communities, environment and markets. If we don't quantify and promote our value then there are plenty of entities and other interests that will, and the end result may not be what we are looking for.
How many times has it come up in conversation that the consumers will be the voice of reason and demand common sense products and solutions? Our operations will always be relevant because those are the types of farming systems that we run. After all, the consumers want clean, healthy, safe food that is produced sustainably. Our family owned grazing dairies with an appropriate ratio of cows to acres, producing milk as naturally as possible, check all of those boxes. 
Well half is right…The consumer does demand clean, healthy, safe food that is produced sustainably however, we aren't giving it to them. Instead our very successful industrialized agriculture and food system is checking those boxes. The system is meeting the consumer demands with substandard farming practices cloaked under the terms, sustainable, healthy, family owned, environmentally friendly and even regenerative to name a few. Our industrial agriculture has been very successful in defining these characteristics to fit the status quo farming practices that have eroded our land and rural communities. Now we find ourselves watching our value attributes being taken away because they have been defined by other interests. Just like the saying if you don’t have a plan there are plenty of other people that will help you create your plan. Unfortunately, the results of that plan is becoming evident in our Ag statistics. Reports continue to show farm loss and consolidation while the cost of land, labor and production continue to go up creating not only difficulty for small dairy to find markets and stay in business but also the perfect time to divest from our operations. Do strong commodity markets make it easier for small farms to survive? Let's see how the ag statistics reports look over the next couple years. We may be surprised.
It would be hard for anyone to disagree that our dairy industry has changed a lot over the past decade. DGA was started to provide opportunities for the next generation to get involved in dairy and for the current generation to find the key people to build, sustain or transition their dairies. It’s about the people. We can have all the tools, technologies, access to land, capital, research and common sense solutions, however it takes people to actually implement. People are the key. The goal is to provide opportunities for people and in particular beginning dairy farmers. This is the basis of what made DGA relevant and allowed it to grow from a central Wisconsin initiative in 2009, to the first registered Apprenticeship in agriculture in the nation. Beginning farmers were more of a priority at that time so there was funding and support to develop training programs like ours. We even thought that the status quo dairy industry would realize that managed grazing could solve the problem of next generation farmers and farm transitions. Through the assistance of USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher funding sources DGA became its own nonprofit in 2013 and moved from a steering committee to a board of directors. This gave us the formal structure to address the interest from farmers in other states. In 2015 DGA registered with the federal department of labor and branched out with the help of numerous administrative partners. A management and oversight framework to build capacity, and customized content has been assembled in the form of a National Apprenticeship Training Committee and our own school, the Managed Grazing Innovation Center. With the leadership of the board of directors, a five-person staff and 11 education coordinators dispersed around 15 states, DGA had grown to include over 200 approved training farms. We started this journey with the goal of creating a platform of training, education and workforce development, and we did just that, however that’s not enough to stay relevant. We have an industry that is changing at a rapid pace and if we don’t meet the needs we will be irrelevant. The fortunate thing is the consumer still demands clean, healthy, safe food that is produced sustainably. We just need to figure out how to verify that our production system can do it better than any other, and deliver our products in an efficient manner with some scale.
Attached is some research done by the University of Wisconsin. The DGA “Beta Farms” was the source for some of the baseline information. The data paints a clear picture of the potential of managed grazing dairy to address our most important environmental issues and if you read between the lines it’s an indicator of the markets that could drive revenue to our dairies. In addition to our original goal of providing opportunities for beginning dairy farmers, we need to make it a goal to define and quantify our relevance in these environmental, financial and consumer markets. Otherwise we will continue to be overlooked. This is some of the work that DGA will be focusing on along with the workforce training component. We need to create mechanisms that drive revenue and relevance for our farms to keep them operating and thriving. The goal to provide opportunities for people and in particular beginning dairy farmers will not be realized if we don’t have farmers.
It’s easy to be complacent and believe that common sense and logic will prevail and our farms will be forever relevant to supply the consumer with products, but sometimes even common sense needs to be quantified. While this may seem rather unfortunate it is also where the opportunities are to be found. Stay tuned…there could be some exciting stuff coming.

~Joe (Joe is a former agriculture instructor turned dairy farmer. He and his wife own 3 separate 175 cow grazing dairies in Wisconsin and serves as the executive director of DGA.)
DGA, University of Missouri partner for NRCS Cooperative Agreement with new technology for underserved.
Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship (DGA) is pleased to partner with the University of Missouri (MU) and Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) in a new cooperative agreement that aims to increase understanding and adoption of climate-smart managed grazing, precision technology, and NRCS programs among beginning dairy farmers and other historically underserved producers.


Next Scheduled Webinar will be:


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Altfrid@dga-national.org If your topic is selected you will receive a DGA hat!

**Webinars are recorded and available anytime on the DGA website. Go to your dashboard and click the “Resource” button to find them.

Hello Newsletter Readers!

Last month I wrote about the wonderful Farmer-Mentors in our program and the value they bring to the Apprentices on their farms.

This month I would like to tell you about our education coordinators. DGA has eleven education coordinators who are the boots-on-the-ground people that work with the Mentors and Apprentices in our fifteen partner states – a few have more than one state! Many are dairy farmers themselves; some are current or former University Extension agents and others work for industry non-profits. They work through our administrative partners and often manage their DGA work in addition to their duties at those organizations. What they all have in common is their desire to help grazing dairy farmers train the next generation in managed grazing dairy.

The EC’s play a critical role in the program by not only recruiting participants (both Mentors and Apprentice Candidates), but also by assisting Mentors to find an Apprentice, sign up an existing employee or family member on the Mentor farm, and most importantly, once a pair is matched, assisting them in getting off the ground in their Mentor/Apprentice relationship. They help them understand the program requirements, ensure all the Department of Labor paperwork is in place and serve as a touch stone over the course of the two-year Apprenticeship.

These folks wear many hats in their role for DGA – counselor, administrator, friend, educator, confidant, mediator, and cheerleader! They believe in DGA and its principals in managed grazing dairy. They want to see more graziers on the land, cows on grass and ultimately, Journeyworkers in successful careers.
Most EC’s have relationships in the dairy industry and often know many of the grazing farmers in their state. This is a key component to their success and the success of DGA. They know the challenges of the dairy industry and the joys of this way of life.

We rely on our education coordinators to be our eyes, ears, and face of DGA, and we feel fortunate to have such a dedicated crew.

If you have any interest in becoming a Farmer-Mentor or an Apprentice, please visit our contact page, scroll down to the list of education coordinators and the states they cover, to learn more: https://www.dga-national.org/contact

Angie Sullivan, angie@dga-national.org, 715-553-0364


Classes offered this term:
~ Dairy Cattle Nutrition, Feeds, and Feeding
~ Milk Quality
~ Holistic Farming and Systems Approach (Elective)
Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship is hiring a Managed Grazing
Innovation Center Instructor!!

We are expanding our team! Learn more about the position and how to apply by clicking below.

DGA Executive Director, Joe Tomandl, III, visits with Pam Jahnke of The Mid-West Farm Report at the Wisconsin FFA Convention

Dairying Like a Kiwi: DGA PA Mentor Matt Byler Uses New Zealand-Style Grazing

Michigan 2501 Events, a great success!
Thanks to our MI Education Coordinator, Jessica Duran for the pictures!

Have an upcoming DGA Event? Send it to
Dana@dga-national.org to have it placed in our monthly newsletter!

  • Thursday, June 23rd - DGA Board of Director's June Meeting
  • Thursday, June 23rd - DGA/SFA MN Pasture Walk, Sauk Centre, MN
  • Tuesday, July 5th - DGA/Great River Graziers Iowa Pasture Walk, Waukon, IA
  • Monday, July 11th - MGIC Summer Session Classes Begin
  • Saturday, July 16th - Ohio Regen Grazing Pasture Walk, Defiance, OH
  • Thursday, July 21st - DGA/SFA MN Pasture Walk, Cokato, MN

2022 Schedule for
DGA’s Grazing Farm Tour & Workshop Series:

  • June 21st – Miraposa 4, Granby, MO
  • June 29th – Tomandl Dairy, Medford, WI
  • September 9th – Ron & Susan Rusk Farm, Jonesville, MI
  • September 29th – Terraced Acres Farm, Gay Mills, WI
  • Oregon Dates - TBD

Event registration is required.
To learn more and register, select a specific event from the DGA event calendar

The DGA Logo Store is NOW OPEN!!!!!

For every item you purchase $3 goes back to DGA to support dairy grazing training and initiatives.

Get your DGA Logo Gear TODAY!!

DGA Journeyworkers!!!!!!
Did you know that we have Journeyworker Job Opportunities?? Check them out on our Participant Resources Page!!