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EVENTS

Food and the Wisconsin Idea

Date: June 29, 2017, 3:30pm
Location: University Club, 803 State St.
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Diversified Organic Grain Rotations Field Day

Date: July 21, 2017, 9am-2:30pm
Location: Bickford Organics, Ridgeway, WI
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Farm and Sea Conservation Dinner: Michael Fields Agricultural Institute

Date: August 25, 2017, 6-8pm
Location: Michael Fields, East Troy, WI
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SUCCESS STORIES

The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers: Keeping the Dream of Farming Alive

As older farmers retire, fewer young farmers are stepping in to take their place. The number of beginning farmers dropped 20 percent in the last five-year census period, and the average US farmer now tops 58 years of age. more

CIAS Mini-Grants Support Graduate Student Research in Sustainable Agriculture

CIAS supports innovative graduate student research addressing the challenges faced by small- and medium-sized farms and food businesses. Awarded annually, our competitive mini-grants aid students as they initiate their research in sustainable agriculture and food systems. more


DIRECTOR'S BLOG

UW-Madison Highlights Partnership with Stoney Acres Farm

Kat Becker and Tony Schultz, who own and operate Stoney Acres Farm in Marathon County, are featured in a UW-Madison campaign to show how partnerships with citizens and businesses are furthering the Wisconsin Idea in each of the state's 72 counties. more

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Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers Course Available Online

Posted August 2016

Sarah Joe and Mitchell Mumm - web

Would-be farmers can now learn about pasture-based production and business management without leaving home. The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers (WSBDF), the first course of its kind, is now available online.

“For several years now, we have been asked by folks across the country about the possibility of our course becoming accessible online, and today it is a reality. This is deeply meaningful for me,” said Richard Cates, director of the WSBDF.

The WSBDF, which is going into its 22nd year, is a cooperative effort of the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and Farm and Industry Short Course at the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

The online course offers the same curriculum as the WSBDF pasture-based dairy and livestock seminar offered on-campus, and at distance learning sites. Online learning lets students enroll at any time and take the course from any location, at their own pace.

Participants have access to live recordings of WSBDF lectures addressing a wide range of topics including business planning, farm selection and setup, parlor design, livestock health, organic production and principles, marketing, soil nutrient management, and much more. The full course outline is available at wsbdf.wisc.edu/online-course-outline/.

While the course emphasizes dairy and beef production, goat and sheep production are also covered.

Each topic included in the course features one or more speakers, as well as additional readings and resources. The WSBDF emphasizes learning from experienced dairy and livestock farmers, some of whom are WSBDF graduates. Other course presenters include UW-Madison faculty, Extension agents, financial consultants, farm lenders, state and federal agency representatives, and small business owners.

Students who complete three exams and submit a business plan will receive a certificate of course completion. The online seminar includes tools and templates to help participants prepare their own business plans, and the $300 fee includes personalized input and feedback on these plans from course instructors.

Cates is optimistic that the online course will catalyze the success of the WSBDF by helping many more aspiring farmers reap the environmental, economic and quality of life benefits of well-managed dairy and livestock agriculture. “For more than twenty years, the WSBDF has trained the next generation of farmers—over 500 students. It makes me very happy to be able to share this experience with would-be farmers anywhere on planet Earth.”

For more information and course registration, visit wsbdf.wisc.edu. The course is available for groups and organizations; please contact Dick Cates at rlcates@wisc.edu or 608-265-6437 for details.