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  • Stephen Lecce, MPP

Ontario Training More Dairy Farmers

RIDGETOWN — The Ontario government is investing over $300,000 to help young people prepare for meaningful and well-paying careers in the dairy industry. In partnership with Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO), the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus’ Dairy Herdsperson Apprenticeship (DHA) program will be expanding to offer a hybrid, distance education option for students who are not able to study in person full-time or are already working on farms around the province.

“Ontario’s dairy farmers are everyday heroes who work tirelessly to keep milk and dairy products on the table for families across our province and country,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “Our government is proud to invest in a homegrown training program to help jobseekers get the skills they need to provide quality food to the people of Ontario for generations to come.”

Participants will learn about animal health, routine herd maintenance and nutrition, and operating farm equipment. They will complete 480 hours of classroom training, hearing directly from industry experts about milking, feeding, animal health, reproduction, and other dairy-related skills.

“As a long-standing partner, we are proud to support the University of Guelph’s commitment to the dairy industry through programs, such as the Dairy Herdsperson Apprenticeship,” said Murray Sherk, Board Chair at DFO. “We are thrilled to work alongside Ridgetown Campus, with support from Minister McNaughton and the Skills Development Fund to virtually expand the program, reach more students and meet the needs of Ontario’s dairy producers.”

Students in the DHA program will also complete 5,520 hours of on-farm training as part of a paid work placement, where they learn hands-on skills, including operating and maintaining farm machinery, working directly with animals and processing milk. All this will prepare them for rewarding and in-demand careers in Ontario’s agricultural industry.

"Ontario's dairy sector has the ability to provide rewarding careers that can last a lifetime," said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "With this investment our government is attracting the best talent to the agriculture and food industry while supporting a key pillar in our provincial Grow Ontario Strategy."

This project is funded through the government’s Skills Development Fund, an over $700 million initiative, which supports ground-breaking programs that connect jobseekers with the skills and training they need to find well-paying careers close to home.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario’s dairy industry contributes $7.7 billion to Ontario’s gross domestic product.

  • The University plans for the distance learning program will be available in 2024. For more information on the Dairy Herdsperson Apprenticeship program, visit

  • Through its first three funding rounds, the Skills Development Fund has supported 596 projects, aiming to help almost 522,000 people around the province take the next step in their careers.

  • The Ontario government launched the new $224 million Skills Development Fund: Capital Stream (Bricks and Mortar) on June 30 to support the building of new training centres and the renovation or expansion of existing ones.

  • Ontario’s Skills Development Fund is supported through labour market transfer agreements between the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.


"This program is a great step forward to meet what students need, especially when balancing work and school. Online learning will be combined with on-site modules offering more students the opportunity to complete the dairy apprentice training. We are excited to be working with DFO on building industry expertise across the province."

- Brett Shepherd Director, Ridgetown Campus

"This expansion of the Dairy Herdsperson Apprenticeship program is a testament to our government's commitment to nurturing young talent and equipping them with the skills necessary for success. Together, we're shaping a generation of skilled professionals who will carry on the rich tradition of dairy farming and contribute to the sustenance of families and communities across Ontario. This partnership signifies a brighter future for our youth, family farms, and the dairy sector, highlighting the boundless opportunities that lie ahead."

- Trevor Jones MPP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington

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