We like to have our stakeholders review our current research and education priorities so that they know what we are either currently working on or in the cue to be worked on as time and talent permits. If you have any thoughts on how the current priorities might be better stated or redirected to fit your needs better, we want to know what your thoughts are. We are always looking for other researchable items that pasture-based farmers would like to more about and maybe address an issue that you have heretofore not found an adequate answer to fix a problem that you face in your grazing operation. These can be quite varied: soil fertility issues, getting legumes established in pastures and keeping them there, livestock parasite problems, maintaining milk production, running out of pasture at times, getting good finish on meat animals, and even marketing issues.

I have attached the research, education, and technical support priorities that were put together over the past 2 years by our stakeholders in one document. The priorities that have a research component in them are highlighted in yellow. This does not make them more important, but just denotes that these priorities need further research brought to bear on them. Since the 2017 document contains only the top 5 priorities from 2016, I have also attached the 2016 document with all the 2016 priorities listed (11). I will note to you that number 11 is being addressed this year at our conference looking at Grass Fed Beef Viability and at Grass Fed Beef Value Chain Report. We are also displaying what the Pasture Lab came up with Penn State on riparian area pasture management, number 2 priority from 2016 with our opening technical session on Thursday morning, January 25. This culminates a 4-year period where have tried to address the issue of pasturing land along streams without damaging water quality and the streambanks. We are also taking a look at number 5 from 2016 on fatty acid research with our session on Friday morning, January 26. We are also tackling the issue of soil health, a priority from our 2017 deliberations.

Obviously, we do fashion our activities around our stakeholders list of priorities. We are not able to attack all the priorities at once, but we do them as we have the resources and the expertise to do so. The last shot has not been fired on orchardgrass die-back as I ran across a research paper that researchers in China discovered two orchardgrass accessions that were tolerant of high summer temperatures and foliar diseases. The principal researcher is at VA Tech now so I alerted Dr. Ben Tracy at Virginia Tech about this. A National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant was issued recently to fund grass breeding research so these two events have matched up well. As our climate warms, orchardgrass grown in the southern part of the Northeast becomes more susceptible to dying out after just 2 or 3 years of production.

Roles identified for the NEPC are:

  • Focus research, extension, and technical assistance activities of the Consortium on beef, dairy, goat, horse, and sheep grazing enterprises in the Northeast.
  • Identify grazing systems research, extension, and technical assistance needs;
  • Develop partnerships and collaborative efforts among research, extension, service providers, and producer groups to identify and meet these needs;
  • Assist producers to implement grazing systems appropriate to their management objectives, farm enterprise, and ecosystem;
  • Disseminate information to producers and other users throughout the Northeast.

The last attachment is the one page flyer that we put together in 2015. On the front page there is a flow diagram that shows how the annual conference works in conjunction with our other activities that we do to support Consortium objectives. I will get back to those of you leading sessions on priority research, education, and technical support needs to make suggestions on how to approach the people attending your needs session in reviewing and providing you with comments and suggestions on improving upon the current priorities and adding new ideas to the mix.

Bring paper copies of the priorities along with you when come to the Conference. If it is not convenient or you forget, we will have some copies available for you to look at while we discuss which ones need further work. If you see we are missing something that you think should be researched or addressed through education and technical assistance, let us know. After all the technical sessions are done, we will have time Friday morning to address these priorities in light of all we have heard on at the Conference. Looking forward to seeing you there.