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Dodgeville ­- A program to connect beginning and experienced livestock farmers for farmer-to-farmer training in Southwest Wisconsin begins March 1. "The one-year program helps new farmers get started on their own on rented land under the guidance of an experienced farmer" says Robert Bauer, Program Director for Southwest Badger RC&D.

The program is called the Mentorship Program for Future Livestock Farmers. The program builds on existing resources like the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers at the University of Wisconsin and the Southwest Wisconsin Grazing Broker Project to help recent graduates start farming independently.

"We are looking for farmers with experience with livestock production and managed rotational grazing. Many beginning farmers in our program want to farm full-time but need coaching to navigate the challenges of getting started. We also encourage experienced farmers to apply as beginners to learn new skills such as grass-finishing" says Bauer.

The kickoff is scheduled for March 4, from 3-6 p.m. at Clyde Community Center, 6281 State Road 130, Avoca, where the program director will host an orientation for current and prospective participants in the program. The Grazing Broker will provide training on how to negotiate pasture rental. And participants are invited to bring a side dish to share for a potluck supper. The workshop is co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Grass-fed Beef Cooperative. The event is free and open to the public but RSVP is required at 608-732-1202 by March 1.

The Grazing Broker is supported by a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Visit www.swbadger.org for more information.

Southwest Badger Resource Conservation & Development Council, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working in the Southwest Wisconsin region. The organization's mission is to implement natural resource conservation, managed growth, and sustainable rural economic development in the area through education and implementation of best practices relating to agriculture, grasslands, forests, and surface waters.

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