“I think the future of farming looks more collaborative. It looks like working together, and it’s about stacking enterprises.” Meghan Filbert of Practical Farmers of Iowa (and a beginning farmer to boot) joins Dirt Rich to talk about an online tool facilitating just that.
Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) is a nonprofit in Ames, Iowa with a mission to equip farmers to build more resilient farms and communities. They believe that farmers learn best from other farmers, so it’s no surprise that the online platform they helped create brings farmers together.
The Midwest Grazing Exchange is billed as “a matchmaking website for livestock and land.” Farmers in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin can use the website to connect with folks looking for rural or urban land to graze their livestock on and vice versa. “It’s like Tinder for cows,” Meghan quips.
There isn’t a lot of livestock on the land in Minnesota, so the website creates a great opportunity for beginning farmers and row crop farmers to partner and both reap the economic benefits. For podcast host and farmer Jared Luhman, there’s definitely a draw. “Every day that my cattle are grazing is a day that I’m not feeding hay, and that day that I’m not feeding hay is saving me quite a bit of money. For me as a livestock producer, if I can find somewhere to graze my cattle on somebody else’s land for cheaper than I can feed it at my own farm, then I’m going to do it.” This matchmaking tool can also be an asset to beginning farmers in starting a custom grazing business.
In addition to the soil health benefits that come along with properly managed grazing, there’s even solid potential for an income stream for participating landowners. Meghan adds that “if you plant cover crops as a row crop producer, we know that by grazing those cover crops that is a way that you’re going to benefit economically in the short term. Within the same year…you can turn a profit and then some.”
The Midwest Grazing Exchange website also includes other resources to help farmers make these grazing partnerships, such as templates for leases and agreements. In the episode, Meghan and Jared also have some pointers in figuring out your rate, and Meghan does a basic walkthrough on how to use the website and start finding opportunities in your area. If you’re looking to extend your grazing season, save some money, make some money, or improve your soil health with grazing–give the Midwest Grazing Exchange a gander!
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