Transitioning to a more regenerative agricultural system represents substantial economic and environmental benefit for both Illinois and the broader Midwest as independent, regional producers look beyond conventional methods to raise and produce food. Regenerative grazing for grass-fed beef production offers multiple potential benefits for Illinois communities. To achieve the associated environmental, economic, and social benefits on a broad scale, multiple production, value-chain, and “market pull” interventions need to be coordinated within and between the parts of the state with the strongest potential benefit from regenerative grazing.
Since 2019, the Wallace Center and Delta Institute have partnered to research and document the current state of Illinois grass-fed beef value chains (Phase 1 – 2020), map the potential for and barriers to growth of the grass-fed sector in the greater Chicago area (Phase 2 – 2021), and incentivize and support the expansion of regenerative grazing in target watersheds (Phase 3 – 2022). Both organizations have long worked to support transitions to regenerative agricultural practices that improve Illinois’ impaired waterways and ecosystems and mitigate the state’s broader contributions to climate change.
Our long-term vision is the creation of a robust local grass-fed marketplace that provides enough market drivers for farmers to adopt or incept regenerative farming methodology in the greater foodshed, while providing Chicago consumers with high quality, local, regeneratively produced grass-fed beef.
We extend our appreciation to Delta Institute, and the many farmers, restaurant owners, and other collaborators who have assisted us in our market development and analysis efforts.
Generous long-term support for this project was provided through Food:Land:Opportunity, an initiative of Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust, funded through the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust.