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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Cooperative meat venture growing

Grass Roots Co-op connects farmers, processors and markets

By Martha Hoffman Kerestes

Clinton, Arkansas — About a decade ago, a group of graziers producing and marketing meat in Arkansas started trying to address a problem. Demand for their production was growing, but delivering products, hauling animals to processing, and soliciting sales were taking a large part of their time.

“We started looking for a different model,” says Cody Hopkins, one of those graziers. “We were all experiencing the same problems.”

They wondered if there would be a way to share some of the marketing logistics, thus enabling the farmers to do what they do best: managing livestock and poultry.

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Practical genetics: knock out the props

Allen Williams

By Allen Williams

Genetic selection is often complicated and confusing for many livestock producers. We try to decipher numerous trait measurements. We pour through and try to interpret breeding values and EPDs. We like to use weighted or adjusted values for various traits. In the past couple of decades we have added DNA marker technology to the mix.

We read breed promotion literature, look at the glossy pictures in breed association catalogs, and ask neighbors and friends what they are using. Some of us pay attention to sale barn owners and operators, feedlot managers, the packer or processor, the lender or whoever is selling us something.

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Why we built a baleage dryer

By Nathan Weaver
First in a series

The seed for a mechanical hay drier was planted in my mind by an article in the May 2010 issue of Graze. On a visit to northern France, Joel McNair had talked with Jean-Luc Gaugain about his system for drying loose hay.

Jean-Luc’s system captured solar energy from air heated inside the black, steel roof and walls of his barn. This heated air was forced through loose hay to finish the drying process of forages that had been harvested at 30-35% moisture.

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Taking research with a grain of salt

Allen Williams

All of it is anecdotal

By Allen Williams

The British statistician George E. P. Box stated that “All models are wrong, but some are useful.”

This has become an oft-quoted statement in scientific circles. Box was referring to the fact that in science there is a growing trend to develop theoretical models with the purpose of predicting some type of behavior or outcome based on data assumptions used in the model.

While no model can predict the exact outcome of any singular event, models can be useful if the assumptions are good and the output is close enough.

Having been a scientist and a farmer for more than 30 years now, I often hear people talk about “anecdotal” research or data. Their point is that if the research was not peer-reviewed and published, it has no value. This is particularly insinuated with observational data.

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Weak links

Food system’s weaknesses show need for something better

By Allen Williams
The Covid-19 pandemic has created significant upheaval across the world, and certainly right here in the U.S.

With the shelter-in-place orders, restaurants closing to inside dining, and schools and universities shutting down in-person education, the impact on agriculture and the food industries has been monumental.

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