Skip to main content

Dairy Grazing Technical Assistance Cohorts Underway

by Ollie Cultrara, VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets 

Dozens of Northeast region dairy farmers are receiving support in developing grazing management systems thanks to a creative model of cohort-based technical assistance funded by the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC). Since 2020, the NE-DBIC has contracted with technical service providers to recruit localized groups of dairy farmers in five states. The cohort-based approach is designed to help farmers build grazing knowledge and skills through a combination of direct one-on-one support and peer networking. 

The contractors provide on-farm group and individual business and technical assistance over a period of 18 to 24 months to help the farmers transition to a grazing model, improve home-grown forage production, or implement alternative farm management systems. Each farmer works with the service provider to develop a two-to-five-year transition and management plan. Once a plan is developed, participating farms are eligible for NE-DBIC grants to help with the costs of implementing improvements, such as fencing supplies, water system improvements, or grass and forage testing. 

Cohorts currently underway 

University of Vermont Extension Grazing Outreach Professional Cheryl Cesario is working with five certified small farms in Addison and Rutland Counties. The farmers are considering or actively transitioning to managed grazing to reduce feed costs, improve animal health, and enhance conservation practices. 

 

Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture is assisting 13 farmers in two cohorts in southern Pennsylvania and central-western New York. The project aims to fill a gap in grazing resources for new dairy farmers by working with current apprentices and recent graduates of the national Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program. 

 

White River Natural Resources Conservation District is coordinating two cohorts to provide technical assistance for 13 farms located in the Connecticut River watershed in Vermont and New Hampshire. The farmers are transitioning to a grazing production model as well as developing individualized Certified Whole Farm Conservation Plans.                

Caption: Dairy farmers in the White River Natural Resources Conservation District's transition to grazing cohort participating in an on-farm learning day. 

 

Cohorts launching in 2022 

University of Vermont Extension will organize cohorts to provide technical assistance for 10 to 12 dairy farmers in Vermont and New York focusing on improving the farmers’ production of high-quality forages using a holistic, whole farm approach.  

Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools, whose member farmers sell dairy products under the Organic Valley label, will support at least 35 certified organic, pasture-based dairy farmers in Maine, New York, and Pennsylvania. Technical assistance will address topics including grazing, forage management, grass-based production systems, silvopasture/agroforestry, alternative manure management, and farm financials management. 

Conservation Performance LLC will recruit farmers and farm financial experts across the region to participate in research and training regarding “low-overhead grazing,” a dairy production model that prioritizes investments in cows and grazing rather than machinery and buildings.  

Cornell Cooperative Extension will recruit at least 10 certified organic dairy farmers in central and eastern New York for technical assistance cohorts to address grazing, nutrition, healthcare, and other topics of interest to participating farmers.   

Additional cohorts will launch later this year through an additional round of contracts focused on helping farmers move along the continuum of grazing, enhance home-grown forage production, and explore alternative farm management strategies.  

For more information, visit agriculture.vermont.gov/transition-grazing-cohort-ta-contract or contact Kathryn Donovan at kathryn.donovan@vermont.gov

Dairy Marketing & Branding Services Grant  

by Ollie Cultrara, VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets 

This month, the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center will launch a second round of the Dairy Marketing & Branding Services Grant. These grants support value-added dairy processors to contract with professional marketing firms to develop marketing tactics, brand improvements, and overall strategy to elevate their businesses. Up to 25% of the grant funds may be used to implement the strategy or content developed by the contractor.  

Projects funded by this grant will increase the exposure and promotion of regionally produced dairy products guided by marketing/branding professionals. Established dairy processors based in Vermont and the Northeast region that transform raw milk into an edible product with regionally sourced milk are eligible to apply. 

Awards will range from $10,000 to $50,000 with a 25% cash or in-kind match requirement. A total of $400,000 in funds is available in this grant round. To learn more, visit agriculture.vermont.gov/dbic/activities/dairy-marketing-branding-services-grant or contact Brockton Corbett at brockton.corbett@vermont.gov or 802.498.5111. 

Last Chance: Multi-Business Dairy Agritourism Grant Closes April 7 

by Ollie Cultrara, VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets 

The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center is accepting applications through the Multi-Business Dairy Agritourism Grant Program until April 7. This funding supports collaborative agritourism activities designed to raise awareness and consumption of the region’s dairy products. Dairy producers, processors, and producer associations in Vermont and the Northeast are eligible to apply. Awards will range from $10,000 to $25,000 with a 25% cash or in-kind match requirement.  

Learn more at agriculture.vermont.gov/dbic/activities/multi-business-dairy-agritourism-grant or contact Brockton Corbett at brockton.corbett@vermont.gov or 802498.5111. 

Return to Agriview April 2022   

The website encountered an unexpected error. Please try again later.