Agricultural and other working lands must be managed regeneratively to achieve the balanced environmental, economic, and social solutions needed for our current challenges. Healthy farms, thriving rural communities, and diverse ecosystems are the foundation of food system resiliency. The Wallace Center works with farmers, land managers, and those that support them to develop and scale innovative farming solutions that prioritize diversity and cooperation. Connecting regenerative farming and land management practices to equitable value chains helps the Wallace Center build lasting solutions for ecosystem health and climate change mitigation.
Wallace Center’s Pasture Project continues to work with the Wisconsin DNR to pilot the use of regenerative grazing as a conservation management strategy on multiple sites managed by the agency. Pasture Project, University of Wisconsin, and WI-DNR are working to scale and solidify the case for grazing public grasslands instead of burning, mowing, or spraying. As of Spring 2020, conservation grazing is being implemented on 30 sites on over 400 acres, with additional sites in the approval pipeline.
Market demand for locally grown food is stronger than ever. In response to this demand, small and mid-sized farmers are scaling up their businesses and entering wholesale markets. While these farms are committed to quality and to safe production practices, it can be cumbersome and costly for them to comply with buyer requirements made with large-scale agriculture in mind.
GroupGAP was developed in 2016 by the USDA and the Wallace Center to help farmers of all sizes meet federal regulations and wholesale food safety requirements. The USDA GroupGAP Audit Program is a model that allows individual farmers to certify their practices as part of a centrally managed group, and provides an umbrella of support, with the local group and participating producers addressing food safety compliance cooperatively.
Cover crops can be an on-ramp to the use of regenerative practices that support soil health and water quality. Wallace Center’s Pasture Project completed a 2018 project which built the case for grazing cover crops through on-farm data collection in MN and IA. The project found that grazing cover crops can improve soil fertility and provide significant cost savings. Pasture Project continues to build the case for the practice with a new cohort of six cooperating farms in IL and MO.