Regenerative ag aims to go mainstream

By Joel McNair

Organic and grassfed production practices have done great things for thousands of farmers and ranchers. Millions of consumers have benefited, too.

But looking at this from a broader perspective — and I think most organic and grassfed people do look at things this way — there’s a big problem here:

Very few acres are being farmed and ranched as organic and/or grassfed.

The things we want to achieve in terms of bettering people and the planet aren’t getting done. Indeed, by most reports the overall picture here is getting darker by the day.

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Diving deep into grassfed health benefits

Allen Williams

By Allen Williams

While those of us involved in the grassfed world are very aware that the meats we produce are different than those those coming from grain-fed animals, most of us don’t fully comprehend the breadth of those differences.

This month, I want to summarize what’s been discovered by a large number of research projects over a period of many years. As you’ll see, this goes far beyond the differences in levels of CLAs and omega-3 fatty acids that are commonly understood by grassfed producers.

Hopefully this information can be of use when you’re talking with your customers.

New research performed by Stephan Van Vliet of Utah State University along with the Bionutrient Food Association, found that in comparison to grain-fed, grass-finishing increases a wide variety of health-promoting compounds in meat while improving animal health.

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Focusing on quality food — and life

Seasonality important to Jako Farm

By Martha Hoffman Kerestes

Hutchinson, Kansas — Quality of life is a major focus for the King family as they direct market a variety of grassfed meat and dairy products in central Kansas.

“The farm is here to work for us and not us for the farm,” explains Daniel King, who manages Jako Farm with his wife, Robyn. They took over the business from Daniel’s parents Ken and Judy in 2015.

To that end, Daniel and Robyn implement an array of time- and labor-saving measures started by his parents that include a seasonal milking schedule and once-a-day milking, nurse cows, frozen milk and more.

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A store added much to our farm sales efforts

Barn and farm store

By Cliff McConville and Anna Lipinska

Opening our on-farm store in May 2016 was one of the best things we have done to grow our farm business and stabilize our customer base.

After starting our grass-based farm in 2011, initially we were taking only online orders for grassfed beef and pasture-fed broilers, eggs and pork, with pickup appointments scheduled at our house in northwest suburban Chicago.

In spring 2012 we started offering raw milk through a herdshare program, with customers picking up their shares from the barn refrigerator on assigned days. Soon we began leaving eggs, yogurt, honey and meat orders in the barn fridge for herdshare customers on an honor system.

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Relaxed intensity works for this grazier

Greg Nowicki manages well, but doesn’t push too hard

By Joel McNair

Athens, Wisconsin — When it comes to direct marketing his grass-finished beef, Greg Nowicki says “that’s just not me.”

Each year Greg does sell a few wholes, sides and quarters to local folks. Marketing much more than that from this rural north-central Wisconsin locale would require more sales effort than he is willing to expend. Slots at local processing facilities are booked up many months into the future, thus providing a major hurdle to growing any direct sales venture.

So Greg chooses to ship at least 80% of his cattle through the Wisconsin Grass-fed Beef Cooperative and its Wisconsin Meadows label.

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Farming in the midst of humanity

All Grass Farms thrives in suburbia

By Joel McNair

Dundee, Illinois — Housing subdivisions. Strip malls. Stoplights. Traffic at volumes that can make leaving the driveway a harrowing adventure. Your farming nightmare is farm business nirvana for Cliff McConville and Anna Lipinska.

Asserts Cliff, “I would not put a farm anywhere besides an urban area. That’s where the people are.”

While most farmers probably don’t feel that way, Cliff does have a point in regard to the business that he and Anna are running. Where else but in the midst of a nine-million person metropolitan area could a grass farm ring up $1.7 million in annual direct sales out of a two-car garage with just $20,000 worth of upgrades?

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