This post is written by Holistic Management Educator Spencer Smith.

I recently had the distinct opportunity to attend the Positive Pastures gathering, held by A Greener World, at Cavallo Point in Sausalito Calif.   It was an excellent opportunity to meet and discuss some of the largest issues that farmers and consumers are facing today.  Some of the topics covered were:

  • the soundness of animal livestock production in relation to climate change
  • diet based illnesses that are plaguing our global population

The organization that held this event is at the forefront of the consumer awareness. A Greener World owns some of the most widely recognized third party certification labels in the food industry, including Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Grassfed, and Wildlife Friendly.

Raising awareness of planned grazing

There were some interesting points raised by some in the scientific community that stated that the production of livestock for food production by humans was one of the most damaging acts that present day agriculture can do to the environment.  However their arguments quickly fell apart  when Dr. Christine Jones and Dr. Cyndi Daley informed the gathering of the importance of planned grazing on grassland ecosystems.  Awareness was also made when the realization that two thirds of the earth’s grasslands are not suitable for crop production.  What will we do on this land and what of the people who make their livelihood from these regions of the world?  Dr. Jones and Dr. Daley did a fantastic job bringing the evidence for good livestock management forward.  The work of these two scientists, amongst many others, stands out as some of the most important in the world of animal agriculture.  They were able to bring the positive aspects of properly grazed livestock to the forefront and showcase how it can do so much good for the environment and for food systems.

During the round table portion of the event I was asked to take part is a session looking at the need for mixed farming in modern agriculture.  We had some fascinating conversations on the use of animals to prep or amend the soils of cash crop production.   Of course whenever looking at mixed farming, people like Gabe Brown and Colin Seis always come up.  Here are two farmers who mix animal agriculture with cash crop production better than about anyone else in the world.  Not only is mixed farming a valid ag business model but when done correctly, it can have huge environmental and economic benefits.


Other attendees also made some fantastic points about how research is conducted.  Some of the most profound points were made by members of the conservation community who spoke about how planned grazing is being used to build habitat for wildlife in Oklahoma. The ecologist that spoke to this point showed how mimicking the herds of buffalo, with cattle, showed how they could recreate the habitat essential to endangered birds.

I am grateful for the invitation to attend this event and look forward to continuing to contribute to the conversation about the critical role planned grazing plays in ecosystem health.

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