2013 Northeast Pasture Consortium Annual Meeting Northeast Pasture Research and Extension Consortium 2016 Annual Meeting, Manchester, NH, February 6-7, 2013

Sarah Goslee, ARS, Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research Unit (Howard Skinner presenting)

Pasture-Based Products within Regional Food Systems

Howard Skinner presented Sarah Goslee’s presentation Pasture-Based Products within Regional Food Systems. Sarah was headed for a Conservation Effects Assessment Program meeting in a distant part of the US.

Pasture-based farming systems do help with carbon sequestration, water quality, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions natural resource concerns. However, these systems also affect regional food distribution, buying decisions of the consumer, and foodsheds. A foodshed is a geographic area that supplies a population center with food.

Lately, there has been a movement to shrink foodsheds to a smaller region so population centers do not need to depend largely or solely on food being imported into their region. This is food security and can reduce the need and the cost of transporting food to far-off places. It also helps the local, regional farming community stay economically viable.

The more diverse and dispersed our food supply is, the better the chance that our food supply will not be severely constrained by drought, flood, terrorism, and other calamities as not all food producing areas would be impacted similarly at the same time.

The Northeast Region currently produces 16 percent of our beef and 76 percent of our dairy consumption. We need to take a close look at our landscape’s capability to produce these agricultural products and what environmental effects this would have on our Region.

At the same time, we also need to have a handle on whether our regional markets can use the increased supply if the landscape and our pasture-based farmers could safely supply it without environmental degradation. Depending on the competitiveness of our producers, would the market absorb this increased production, or would they choose less expensive food from elsewhere?