Commercial-scale regional “regenerative food chains” can provide healthy and affordable foods to nearby cities. Our goal is to organize profitable regenerative farms and ranches to supply these local food chains. Planned economies-of-scale and steady profits are essential because skilled producers must make a decent living while they rebuild depleted soil, water and wildlife resources.
Our long term plans include commercial-scale organic fruit and vegetable operations linked to pasture-based organic farms. Experience has shown that many fruits and vegetables can be grown in the Midwest using modern crop rotations supported by four-season growing systems as shown above.
Agronomists and nutritionists know that soil health affects human health. But according to the USDA, soil fertility is in decline across the world, including in the United States. Starting in 1945, the USDA began tracking declines in pasture and rangeland in the United States. Their grassland pasture and range data show steady losses compared to relatively rapid increases in harvested crop acres.
These data document a shift away from raising beef and dairy cattle primarily on pasture and rangeland in favor of feeding harvested crops in confinement. Petroleum inputs are required for nearly all of these crops. Please see “Why the Milk Train Stopped” on this site for a real life summary of this process.
These deficits can be corrected with organic, pasture-based farming systems where cattle and other ruminants are rotated through combinations of permanent and temporary pastures and cropland.
The permanent pastures (think carbon sinks) include nitrogen fixing legumes (like clover) along with grasses that thrive in cool and warm weather. The right grasses, in combination with careful livestock management return nutrients to the soil, and at the same time, eliminate the need for petroleum-based fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. This sets the stage for organic orchards, vineyards and gardens for nearby cities.
Regenerative Farm Profits = Soil Health = Human Health
Why meat and poultry? After all, most human health and animal welfare experts recommend that consumers reduce their consumption of meat, poultry and dairy products. We agree.
Regenerative food chains must include far more organic grains, lentils. fresh vegetables and fruit. In fact, systematically replacing protean from meat, dairy and poultry with organic grains and lentils, etc. will improve our national diet and environment. These changes will require far fewer cattle, hogs and chickens. Still, these complex organic crop rotations will require profitable cattle operations. With informed consumer support, we can convert more acres to proven pasture-based regenerative methods that reduce global warming while improving both soil and human health.
Informed Consumer Support
Over time, foods from pasture-based farms and organic ranches will compete in nearby grocery stores with conventional foods on health, price and environmental benefits. Replacing year-around confinement feeding of beef and dairy cattle will reduce costs for farm chemicals, water and energy along with capital costs for confinement buildings and equipment. Growing and processing organic grain for nearby free range pork and poultry operations will add to these savings, as will lower food miles. These savings will help offset higher labor costs required for regional organic food systems and healthy rural economies.
Farmland Succession Depends on Regenerative Agriculture
Farmland succession within rural communities is essential to regenerative agriculture. We need more people on the land with real institutional knowledge about sustainable production, processing and retail systems. Therefore, our ultimate goal is to build consumer demand in the Missouri Valley for profitable, farmer-owned brands so that farmers and ranchers can pass their land to the next generation.
Finally and most important, farmland succession and regenerative farming will not happen without financing and consumer support. Please see page 2 on this website for an introduction to financing regenerative agriculture and page 3 for our approach to marketing.
Posted 02-17-2020, edited 05-23-2021