Northeast Pasture Consortium

Because of soil, landscape, and climate limitations, much of the agricultural land in the northeastern U.S. is best suited for growing forage for livestock. On forage-based farms, livestock such as dairy and beef cows, sheep, goats, and horses feed on harvested forages like dried hay, or graze in pastures. These farms generate nearly two-thirds of the agricultural income in the Northeast Region; however, these farms can be costly if pastures are under-utilized or completely replaced with confined feeding that uses harvested forage. Therefore, many livestock producers are trying to better utilize pastures (which typically require less labor, machinery, buildings, pesticides, and fossil fuel inputs) as a way to reduce expenses. Unfortunately, the information, technologies, and resources that support pasture-based farming are limited across the region. To make appropriate business and land management decisions, farmers need up-to-date information about costs, efficient grazing practices, animal husbandry, plant varieties and growth, and the health benefits of grass-fed livestock products. Poor pasture management can result in high costs and forage and livestock production losses for farmers. In addition, poor management can threaten livestock, environmental, and human health. A stable future for agriculture in the northeastern U.S. depends on keeping forage-based farms competitive, profitable, and environmentally friendly.

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