AMES, Iowa — Finding ways to integrate livestock on the landscape has the potential to significantly benefit farmers, the environment and rural communities.
“From creating opportunities for beginning farmers, to improving the soil, to helping make cover crops profitable, livestock are often a missing piece in Midwestern agricultural systems,” Practical Farmers of Iowa said in a news release.
But accessing land to graze, or finding livestock farmers to partner with, can be a barrier
to expanding integrated crop- livestock systems. A new website by the Midwest Perennial Forage Working Group — a network of grazing educators in the Upper Midwest that includes Practical Farmers of Iowa — seeks to address this challenge.
The Midwest Grazing Exchange (midwestgrazingexchange.com) is a free matchmaking service that aims to connect graziers and landowners who live in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. Graziers can search for forage to graze and landowners can search for livestock to graze their land.
The website lets users:
- search listings, including through an interactive map with filters for criteria like season, land or livestock type;
- create listings of what land or livestock they have to offer;
- create a free account to save listings of interest, add new listings, see contact details and message other users;
- browse a curated list of grazing resources, including examples of grazing lease agreements and contracts.
The website also lists grazing specialists and organizations offering grazing support for each state participating in the exchange.
“Integrating livestock on the landscape is a win-win-win for soil, animals and profitability,” says Meghan Filbert, livestock program manager at PFI who helped lead development of the new website.
“The Midwest Grazing Exchange is unique because it serves multiple states in the Upper Midwest and expands beyond cover crop grazing. All grazing scenarios, including woodland and urban grazing, are represented. We want to unlock the plethora of benefits that come with well-managed grazing, and created a space to do so.”
Farmers and landowners can create an account to add livestock or land they have to offer. For questions, contact Meghan at 515-232-5661 or firstname.lastname@example.org.