The Grass Is Greener, page 5

Benefits to the Farmer

This one’s easy. “You bring the cattle to the pasture instead of bringing the pasture to the cattle,” says Rosmann, with a laugh. “The cows are working for you, instead of you working for the cows.” Who can argue?

Changing over to pasture-based farming can free farmers from the large, expensive machinery used to grow feed crops, and they don’t have the waste disposal and disease issues that come with confinement feeding. Their farms become safer places for children to be around the animals and help with farm work. Pasture expert Bill Murphy observes that “When they come to pasture farming, it is such a relief for farmers. They get rid of all these problems: Crop failure, pesticide failure, huge debt.”

Allen Moody, an Organic Valley dairy farmer who grazes his cows, calls pasturing “an holistic approach that makes the farmer take a more active role, actually walk into the field, observe the animals, monitor the grasses. It’s not more time-consuming, but it’s a better use of their time.”

Because it makes the most of on-farm resources, pasture farming allows Organic Prairie farmers like Ron Rosmann and Fred Pedretti to support themselves and their families. In spite of differences in location and climate, they all say their animals are healthier; they enjoy farming more; and they are making money when many other farmers are not. They appreciate being part of a farmer-owned cooperative, as well. Having ownership in an outlet for their pasture-raised, organic meat means they can maintain a healthy livelihood with stable prices on a family-scale farm.

What’s Old is New Again

Pasture management is in some ways about old knowledge on production practices, taken to a new level. One Organic Prairie staff member calls pasture management a new generation of knowledge: “We need to be more aware of how we’re affecting everything.”

At Organic Prairie, we’re hopeful that pasture farming will continue to grow. As farmer Ron Rosmann says, it all fits together so well.

This article researched and written by Sue Futrell
Sources and Recommended Reading