North Central SARE From the Field Profile
Organic Dairy 101: A Workshop for Agricultural Professionals Systems
The Organic Dairy Short Course for Ag Professionals, a Professional Development Grant Program project, aimed at improving the ability of public and private sector agricultural educators and advisors to serveorganic and transitional organic dairy producers.
The project developed, delivered, and evaluated a professional development training module called “Organic Dairy 101: A Workshop for Agricultural Professionals” at four locations in Minnesota and three in Wisconsin, training a total of 174 dairy andagriculture professionals.
During this two-year program, trainings in Minnesota and Wisconsin encouraged participation and local applicability of information. Primary target participants included Extension educators, veterinarians, veterinary students, lenders, farm business management instructors, state airy inspectors and other state/federal agency regulators, paraprofessional mentor farmers, county feedlot officers, agricultural news and feature, and industry consultants.
Two complementary training events reached 66 additional veterinary students and veterinary professionals in Wisconsin. Evaluation indicted a high level ofparticipant satisfaction with the training, progress toward goals, and interest in further organic dairy training.
As a result of this project, more than 200current and future agriculture professionals became more informed about organic dairy legal requirements, production practices, performance, and farmer motivations and have increased confidence that organic dairy is a viable production strategy.
Project coordinator Meg Moynihan is an Organic and Diversification Specialist at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. She said, “At least three fourths of them are working with organic dairy farmers, andsince the training about 40% have learned about organic dairies in their area that they weren’t aware of previously.”
“More than 90 percent can identify sources of reliable information about organic dairythat they can draw on or refer clients to,” said Moynihan.
“Animal health considerations are something that haven’t been adequately addressed by the organic dairy community or by the veterinary industry,” explained project cooperator, Laura Paine, Grazing & Organic Agriculture Specialist with the WI Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. “This project provided a forum to begin discussions between the veterinary establishment and the organic dairy industry.”
Martha Rideout, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, did a followup survey of some of the vets who participated in the workshops, as well as a group of vets who did not participate. She is summarizing her findings, which will be shared with the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine and the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association.
Read more about Moynihan’s project online on the SARE project reporting website. Simply search by the project number, ENC06-091, at http://www.sare.org/projects/ or contact the NCR-SARE office for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) ENC06-091, Organic Dairy Short Course for Ag Professionals.
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Project products are developed as part of SARE grants. They are made available with support from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA). Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed within project products do not necessarily reflect the view of the SARE program or the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.