Did you know that Farmers only get 11.6 cent on every food dollar spent in the US? According to a recent study conducted by USDA, approximately 12% of every food dollar spent in the US goes to the producer.
That’s not a lot for the person who has chosen a relatively moderate living in order to feed the rest of world. Farmers and ranchers are the very people caring for the crops, land, and animals while making the decision on what direction to take the farm regarding costs and production practices. These are the folks who will decide how your food is being raised and produced. Overall this decision is made based on the free market system and consumer demand by how they choose to spend their food dollars.
Regenerative gazing practices and natural model agriculture can improve the land and reduce inputs for farmers and ranchers in the long run, but it takes time to get there. Soil health is not improved over night. The industry has made leaps and bounds over the past few years, and farmers using regenerative practices are adding to the organic matter on their farms at much higher rates than traditional science ever thought possible. This is great news, but it still takes years to heal the land. It also takes commitment from the farmers and ranchers to the natural model and regenerative practices. The land is not going to recover from hundreds of years of abuse in one growing season.
Livestock is also getting an undeserved bad reputation in the news. Livestock is a necessary part of the ecosystem. Recent studies have confirmed, that cows and other livestock raised in pasture-based systems using regenerative grazing practices, have a net negative carbon footprint while simultaneously reducing runoff and improving the environment. Livestock raised using these practices are healthy and humanely treated. Livestock raised using the natural model live a life as closely as they would in the wild that today’s modern world will allow. We want to encourage this type of management. The land needs livestock, the plants need livestock, the air needs livestock, and we need livestock for proper nutrition. The management practices of livestock production are what makes the difference. One of the slogans discussed at a recent conference I attended states, “It’s not the cow, it’s the how.” This is marketing, but it could not have been put in better way. This simple phrase defines the pivotal decision looming for all consumers. Do we make the switch for the overall health of society and the environment? This decision will dictate whether livestock production can be nutritious, affordable, sustainable, and good for the environment.
When consumers buy direct from the farm, the producer gets the validation that they are producing what the consumer wants. When consumers make a conscious choice and request products produced using regenerative practices, they encourage, farmers, restaurants and grocery stores to carry these types of products. Whether you place the importance of your food dollar to health and nutrition, humane animal handling, environmental impact, or all the above, it’s important to support the producers of these types of products.
Conventional agricultural practices have streamlined production to effectively mass produce agricultural products in order to feed a lot of people inexpensively. Is it worth it if it’s not sustainable for the producers or the environment in the long run?
Consumers will dictate the fate of regenerative farming and grazing practices. It will be up to the consumers if these practices remain on the fringes of modern-day agriculture, or if they will become the new “how it’s done.” For the sake of our future, our children’s health and future, I am hoping for the latter. Where do you want to spend your food dollars?

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