(NEWS CENTER) -- A well-known food company wants to make sure Maine has enough dairy farmers to supply it with organic milk. So the company is providing nearly $1.7 million dollars to train new farmers.
Wolfe's Neck Farm in Freeport will provide the training, and will use a big piece of the grant money to build a new dairy barn and milk parlor, housing for the students and a 60-cow dairy herd.
Wolfe's Neck is a non-profit foundation that manages and operates a number of educational programs on more than 600 acres of seaside farmland in Freeport.
The money for the training program is coming from Stonyfield Yogurt of New Hampshire. A Stonyfield spokesperson said there is a growing demand for organic milk and milk products, and that the organic dairy industry needs new farmers to be sustainable.
Wolfe's Neck Director Dave Herring said the program will have four new students each year. The program is looking for people who already have some dairy farming experience, "and they have gotten to a point in their career," Herring said. "They know this is what they want to dedicate themselves to. This is their career path but as is often the case with all sorts of careers sometimes you need additional training."
He said it will all be hands on learning and work, caring for the cows, learning how to take care of the fields and grow the best grass for feed. Wolfe's Neck is working with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension to develop the 18-month training program.
The first students are scheduled to start next June, and David Herring said they have already heard from some who are interested.