Many grass-fed/regenerative farmers have been “going against the grain” for years. There are signs this is changing as more farmers are looking at regenerative techniques, especially with changing subsidies in the UK. US ranchers Doniga Markegard and Will Harris are leading the field when it comes to grass-based farming systems and regenerative land management.
Will Harris took the leap 20 years ago. He is a sixth generation farmer on his family farm in Bluffton, Georgia. In 2000, his farm, White Oak Pastures, was a conventionally-run commodity cattle farm with high levels of pesticides, fertilisers, hormones and antibiotics in use. Today, it is mixed-farming system home to cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry and rabbits, managed using methods that have been around for centuries.
Doniga Markegard has a background in wildlife tracking and permaculture. She has applied those keen observational skills as a regenerative rancher. Her and her family transitioned to direct market grass-fed 15 years ago and they now sell grass-fed beef, grass-fed lamb, pasture-raised pork and pasture-raised chicken. The family stewards 10,000 acres of coastal grasslands on the other side of the US from Will, in the San Francisco Bay Area. She believes in large-scale restoration of western rangelands through mimicking nature, learning from indigenous stewards while producing nutrient dense meats. Her family is featured in the documentary Kiss the Ground, currently on Netflix.
In this session, Guardian journalist, Phoebe Weston, will discuss the and rewards of moving away from intensive techniques towards systems that work more with nature. Also, how farmers should be encouraged to move to more nature-friendly methods how industry and governments should be supporting such a transition.