U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Applauds $1 Million in USDA Grants to Train Beginning Wisconsin Farmers

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin applauded the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement of a combined $1 million in grants to two Wisconsin organizations that implement programs to train beginning farmers, the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship in Seymour and Growing Power in Milwaukee.

“Our strong agricultural tradition is a driver of economic growth and these grants are an opportunity to boost our agriculture economy by ensuring the next generation of farmers can get their start,” said Baldwin. “The average age of Wisconsin farmers is almost 60 years old. Now more than ever, it is critical that aspiring farmers have the financial tools and technical assistance they need get up and running on their own farms. This USDA funding will help ensure that our agriculture sector will continue to fuel our state’s economy for years to come.”

“We are grateful to Senator Baldwin for her support of Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship's project proposal and for her commitment to a sustainable and prosperous future for all Wisconsin citizens,” said Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Communications Coordinator Bridget O'Meara. “Wisconsin has long been a leader in workforce development and, in particular, in the use of Apprenticeship programs to prepare individuals for skilled occupations. Utilizing the model of formal Apprenticeship to train new farmers is truly groundbreaking. If established as a standard career track for dairy farming, the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship will have a tremendous positive impact on rural communities and ecosystems nationwide.”

The grants are funded through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which was included in the Agricultural Act of 2014, known as the Farm Bill. Last Congress, Baldwin helped pass the Farm Bill to invest in rural communities and Wisconsin’s agricultural sector, which contributes more than $88 billion to the state’s economy each year. In particular, Baldwin pressed for and secured Farm Bill provisions from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, which strengthens opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers through training and access to capital.

Last year, Baldwin wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in support of the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship (DGA) application. “The [Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship] program will continue to diversify farming practices, allowing the next generation of young farmers to make a living for their families while strengthening Wisconsin’s rich agricultural tradition,” wrote Baldwin.

Baldwin serves on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. The Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture is responsible for deciding how the federal government spends money on strengthening American farming, spurring rural development, maintaining food safety, and more.

The following Wisconsin organizations received USDA NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Grants:

Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship
Seymour, WI
The Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship and the University of Wisconsin, Madison will expand the dairy apprenticeship program, which will allow more master graziers to work with new apprentices who will gain expertise and experience to use as they start their own farms, or take over a farm from a retiring farm family.

Growing Power
Milwaukee, WI
This program will deliver a hands-on, intensive six-week program to train 30 beginning farmers in urban and peri-urban agriculture. This program will target socially-disadvantaged audiences.