The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center has identified grass-based dairy farming as a significant market opportunity for farmers in the region. The Northeast DBIC will support dairy farmers in acquiring the education, skill-building, and resources they need to make the transition to a rotational grazing via two projects:
- Grazing Transition
- Farmer Learning Journey
Grazing and grass-based farming is gaining traction across the dairy industry as a response to multiple external pressures including volatile price swings, environmental concerns, and consumer demand, which means that being successful in grazing will require understanding both production strategies and processor requirements. New England and New York are well-situated to fully embrace the movement towards intensive, rotational grazing.
Phase 1: Pilot Cohort
University of Vermont and State Agricultural College received a Northeastern DBIC grant to develop a pilot cohort model delivery system of technical assistance blended with on-farm events. Six farmers were selected to receive one-on-one and group technical assistance and individual business assistance regarding all aspects of transitioning their dairy business to a grazing model. Participants will receive funds to help with transition costs as well as assistance in developing a three- to five-year transition and management plan.
Building off of Phase 1, technical service providers anywhere in the Northeast region will be contracted via competitive bid to provide cohort delivery of transition to grazing technical assistance provides groups of geographically similar farmers the opportunity to develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities to move towards a method of production that has multiple farm business benefits. At least 75 farmers will receive technical assistance and be eligible for grant funds to implement projects at the end of their training series.
Farmer Learning Journey
Regional farmers will take part in a learning journey to visit grazing operations in Missouri that are operated by New Zealand trained and affiliated farmers. This will provide an immersive experience in an alternative management system that has significantly lower costs and reduced inputs with a focus on producing high-component milk. Farmers will be eligible for grant assistance to support their attendance. No fewer than 30 farmers will be able to attend and the trip will also be available to technical service providers and lenders to up-skill multiple professionals in the region dairy sector. This opportunity will be coordinated with assistance from Dairy Farmers of America (DFA).