For a wide variety of economic, environmental and social reasons, managed grazing is an effective system for strengthening dairy and livestock farming in Wisconsin. But despite a robust network of producers, the growth of managed grazing in Wisconsin appears to have plateaued at about a quarter of dairy farms and 42 percent of beef operations. What are the obstacles to the further expansion of managed grazing? What are the opportunities? How might farmers, business people, university researchers and government agencies help the grass to do its work where appropriate and feasible?
In order to answer these questions, the UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems worked in partnership with GrassWorks, Inc. to develop a statewide, participatory discussion process called “Blue Sky Greener Pastures.” Funded by the UW-Madison Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, the objective of the project was to generate new initiatives and imaginative ideas (Blue Sky) for extending the benefits of managed grazing (Greener Pastures) to more producers, businesses, educators, consumers and communities.
The core of the Blue Sky Greener Pastures process was a series of four listening sessions held in the summer and fall of 2010 at different locations throughout the state. A total of 166 grazing stakeholders participated in these sessions. The following report summarizes the discussion and recommendations that came out of these sessions:
A second report links potential projects and project leaders with funding sources from both private and public institutions:
We look forward to being part of the grazing projects we hope these reports will stimulate among those who see managed grazing as a key feature of a sustainable and resilient agriculture in Wisconsin.