Grazing Pasture-A major solution


An article in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s spring “save the bay” magazine on restoring Antietam Creek stated as follows:

“Grazing systems on dairy farms offer yet more promise for improving Antietam Creek. Grazing systems allow cattle to feed on pastures, which reduces the need for corn. Fertilizer from cornfields is a big source of nitrogen pollution. So cutting down on corn feed is a boost for water quality.”
Post Author- Fertilizer from corn production and associated CAFO meat production causes +90% of Mississippi watershed pollution and the large Gulf oxygen dead zone. The Mississippi watershed covers 41% of the land area of the US. Corn and CAFO manure production causes 94% of Delmarva Peninsula nutrient pollution and most of the sediment pollution. It is 80% of Choptank River and LaTrappe Creek pollution. The EPA nutrient load charts for Chesapeake Bay show that corn production and CAFO manure in rural areas of Pennsylvania and the Delmarva Peninsula are the overwhelming major source of Bay nutrient pollution and the annual oxygen dead zone in the main stem of the Bay. (see our references for the science that supports these statistics)
Walter Willitt of Harvard U. states that there is a consensus among nutritionists that corn based red meat and corn based processed food is the major cause of the US diabetes and obesity epidemics. The National Cancer Institute in the largest ever study of longevity concluded that red meat consumption including pork significantly reduced life expectancy. Note; Grass fed meat products are up to 7 times lower in saturated fat, higher in omega 3 and significantly healthier in many other ways.
So if introducing pasture into farm field rotations solves so many environmental and health problems, why is there relatively little pasture production? Author’s opinion.

1. Perceived farmer economics. The following is from the same article:
“In a 15 year study by Maryland Extension Service, grazing systems have proved as profitable as traditional systems—in some cases, even more.”

Fred Kirchenmann-Iowa State University- Dick Thompson here in Iowa has demonstrated that farmers can do better financially on prime Iowa farmland with a 5-year rotation, 3 years of grazing followed by corn and soybeans.
Matt Leibman, weed ecologist at ISU found that by simply going to a 4 year rotation, 2 years of Alfalfa followed by corn and beans one can cut herbicide usage by 85%, nitrogen inputs by 75% and cut a farms contribution to global warming by 60% and increase corn yields in the process.

2. Government Policy- Current Government subsidy policy supports grain farming only with minor exceptions

3. Consumer education and resulting demand- The majority of Consumers have not shown a willingness to pay a little more for pasture raised products and avoid much of the high fat, high sugar processed food that dominates supermarket shelves in order to save our natural resources, benefit their long term health and lesson health care cost?


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