FREEPORT, Maine — The USDA has announced 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.”

Wolfe Neck’s Dairy Farmer Training Program launched in 2015 with major support from New Hampshire-based Stonyfield, the organic yogurt producer. The program is a two-year residential apprenticeship based at the Freeport nonprofit farm.

“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 David Herring, executive director of Wolfe’s Neck Farm. “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.”

The farm 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.

For additional information, go to http://wolfesneckfarm.org/dairy.

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