As part of Tennessee’s 10-year strategic plan to increase rural Tennessee’s capacity to produce, beginning in 2014 University of Tennessee Extension will be offering Master Dairy Producer training for the state’s dairy operators. This training replaces the Tennessee Quality Milk Producer certification currently offered.

Peter Krawczel, UT Extension dairy specialist, is leading the curriculum development effort and will be presenting the training. “This training is designed to cover a wide range of production-related topics and should help producers improve their products and cultural practices,” he said.

The first educational program offered as part of Master Dairy Producer will focus on new approaches to calf and heifer management.

Training will be available in Paris, January 27; Lewisburg, January 28; Cookeville, January 29; Greeneville, January 30; and Athens, January 31. Contact your county UT Extension agent for details. The cost of attending will be $25 with lunch provided.

Subsequent programs in 2014 will focus on heat stress and transition cow management. Options for reproduction programs will be also be presented, with details to be announced at a later date.

Earning a Master Dairy Producer Certificate may also help farmers qualify for the maximum cost-share funding available through the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s popular Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program. The TAEP assists qualified producers with cost-share funds of up to 50 percent of the cost of designated equipment or construction of qualifying facilities.

Beginning in 2015, dairy producers who wish to qualify for the maximum TAEP cost share will need to participate in two of three master dairy modules annually. Dairy producers are encouraged to take advantage of continuing education opportunities in 2014, although certification won’t be required for the 50 percent cost share until 2015. More information is posted online at the TAEP website: http://www.tn.gov/agriculture/enhancement

For more information, producers should contact their local county UT Extension agent. Additional UT Extension training will also be available for the state’s beef and goat producers, beekeepers, equine owners, loggers and nursery operators.