2016-08-19 / Front Page

Wolfe’s Neck Farm gets grant to expand organic dairy farmer program throughout New England

The Times Record


DAIRY CATTLE at Wolfe's Neck Farm in Freeport in 2015. The farm was recently awarded a grant to fund an expansion of its training program. 
JOHN SWINCONECK / THE TIMES RECORD DAIRY CATTLE at Wolfe's Neck Farm in Freeport in 2015. The farm was recently awarded a grant to fund an expansion of its training program. JOHN SWINCONECK / THE TIMES RECORD FREEPORT

The Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, today announced this week that Wolfe’s Neck Farm Foundation, Inc. has been awarded a three-year grant totaling $573,256 to support expansion of its Organic Dairy Farmer Training Program to other farms throughout the region. This grant is coming from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“For decades, Maine’s family run dairy farms passed from one generation to the next. That’s just not happening like it used to because of how difficult it’s gotten to make a profit in conventional dairy farming,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “I’m thrilled that Wolfe’s Neck Farm is receiving this investment to help train new dairy farmers in organic production, an area that has great potential for the industry. It couldn’t come at a more critical time for Maine’s dairy farming legacy.”

The WNF Organic Dairy Farmer Training Program launched in 2015 with major support from New Hampshire based Stonyfield, the leading organic yogurt producer. The program is a two-year residential apprenticeship based at the Freeport nonprofit farm. WNF aims to revitalize and strengthen the organic dairy industry in Maine and New England while ushering in the next generation of organic dairy farmers. The training program is offered in partnership with Wisconsin-based Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, the first accredited farming apprenticeship in the nation.

“This funding will enable Wolfe’s Neck Farm to expand this apprenticeship model throughout New England, allowing us to train many more people to enter into the dairy industry in the coming years,” said Wolfe’s Neck Farm Executive Director, David Herring. “We will essentially become the New England regional hub for the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, developing partnerships with grazing dairies throughout the region and providing the farms with the support they need to bring on apprentices and assist in training the next generation. This is a very big deal for Maine and New England.”

WNF currently has four apprentices enrolled in the program and is accepting applications to fill four additional apprenticeships within the next year, bringing the total to eight.

“This grant really allows us to think several years down the road. We will complete the launch of our program here at Wolfe’s Neck in 2017 and, at the same time, will begin expanding to other farms throughout the region,” said Herring.

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