Great Lakes Grazing Network
River Country RC&D Council Inc.
Basin Program Funds:
High livestock concentrations in one area for extended periods of time may result in the removal of vegetation and subject local stream systems to high rates of erosion, sediment/nutrient runoff and pollution.
Livestock is a major agricultural enterprise in the Great Lakes basin. Over 16 percent of the cattle in the U.S. and 17 percent of the cattle in Canada are located in the basin. However, livestock practices that confine animals to feedlots or bare ground exercise lots, without controlling sediment/nutrient runoff, are liable to contribute high amounts of pollutants to surface waters that drain into the Great Lakes.
Management Intensive Grazing (MIG) systems offer livestock management techniques that are environmentally sound and low-cost by maintaining land grass cover which functions as a natural filter. With intensive management, animals are allowed to eat the grass and then moved off to another area. Farmers provide enough areas so that the animals do not return to the original grazing area for several weeks. Farmers adopting this method convert cropland to grassland and therefore provide more cover against erosion. Limited funding restricts the number of farmers that can be reached to promote and enhance this system of management. There is also little money to conduct research. Because of the low-cost nature of the system, there is little support from agribusiness.
Activities conducted by the Great Lakes Grazing Network (GLGN) under this grant included: assistance in funding ongoing activities, including promoting the awareness of grazing in the Great Lakes, printing and mailing the newsletter, hosting workshops, creating/enhancing policy initiatives, documenting the use of MIG systems in the Great Lakes region, and developing and disseminating economic information about MIG systems for use by farmers which included launching an informational web site at http://cdp.wisc.edu/Great%20Lakes.htm.
Tasks and activities completed by the GLGN under this grant application include:
- GLGN was featured in the July/August edition of the National Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) newsletter. This newsletter is distributed to all 50 states and has approximately 35,000 readers
- Coordination of the October GLCI state steering committee meeting held in Eau Claire, Wis. This was a cooperative effort with River Country RC&D and the Wisconsin GLCI committee
- Updates were made to the state contact lists to reflect the changes in appointments.
- Printed and distributed 2,000 Managed Intensive Grazing color flyers in the eight Great Lakes states and the province of Ontario
- The GLGN Newsletter was mailed out on June 15, 2002 and September 15, 2002, with a mailing list of 650 names
- Assisted River Country RC&D with requesting a special allocation from the federal fovernment for $550,000 to enhance the Wisconsin Grazing Initiative
- Coordinating the use of the table top display and its informational handouts for use at grazing meeting and conferences. The display has been used at several county fairs and the Wisconsin Farm Progress Days, where it was viewed by an estimated 60,000 people
- Working with Tom Kreigl, a University of Wisconsin Extension farm financial analyst, on the publication of the Great Lakes Grazing Network Financial Summary
- Continued discussions with Jim Wallace, GLCI midwest coordinator and each states’ GLCI coordinator to broaden the use of the GLGN Network
- Organized photos and accompanying information for the Grazing Calendar, published and distributed in November 2002
- Worked with River Country RC&D Assistant Coordinator Heather Amundson on grants to fund future projects for the GLGN
Future efforts of GLGN will include:
- Continue to support the usage of the GLGN Table Top Display
- Continue to distribute MIG fact sheets to interested parties to reach the goal of 2,000 per year (which has been exceeded as of this date)
- Continue efforts to improve the GLGN web site with cooperation from the UW-River Falls
- Continue work on a 2003 Grazing Calendar outlining many benefits of MIG
- Provide financial assistance to state working groups, as funding allows
- Continue to educate policymakers on the benefits of MIG in order to create or enhance policy initiatives that are favorable to managed grazing
- Document use of MIG in Great Lakes region
- Continue the effort to disseminate economic information about managed grazing systems for use by farmers, bankers and policymakers
Contact: Heather Amundson, 715-834-9672