The Kickapoo Grazing Initiative (KGI) has received renewed funding of $30,000 from the Wallace Center of Winrock International Foundation through their Pasture Project, in which the grass-fed beef market provides a powerful incentive to implement more sustainable land management practices.
Now in its second year, the Kickapoo Grazing Initiative is an exciting new public/private conservation partnership that focuses on promoting economic and environmental incentives for farmers and landowners to adopt managed grazing of grass-fed beef in the Kickapoo Valley of southwest Wisconsin.
“Because of the benefits of increased soil organic matter, reduced runoff, and value-added healthy food production, the KGI believes that managed rotational grazing can help protect water quality while sustaining our small farmers in the area,” remarked Cynthia Olmstead, KGI Project Director.
Not surprisingly, this promotion of a healthier food alternative has been welcomed by consumers and commercial food buyers as well—with help from local marketing initiatives like the Wisconsin Grass-Fed Beef Cooperative (www.wisconsingrassfed.coop).
The KGI is a partnership of Trout Unlimited, Valley Stewardship Network, Vernon County Land and Water Conservation (Ben Wojahn), and UW-Extension-Crawford County (Vance Haugen) begun in June of 2012. The newest partner to join KGI in 2013 is the Mississippi Valley Conservancy land trust based in LaCrosse. The Trout Unlimited-Driftless Area Restoration Effort (DARE) is also providing additional funding for farmer outreach through Natural Resources Conservation Service and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Valley Stewardship Network is taking the lead on water quality monitoring for KGI through help from the Department of Natural Resources’ River Planning Grant.
In year two, the Kickapoo Grazing Initiative is focusing on additional outreach through pasture walks and events with partner organizations as well as direct technical assistance through our grazing specialists. KGI’s funding will help farmers and landowners develop managed rotational grazing plans with one of our grazing specialists as well as work with Natural Resource Conservation Service’s EQIP program to help offset the costs of implementing grazing management practices such as fencing and providing water sources.
Upcoming pasture walks and events schedule include:
• Monday, Feb. 10, 1:30–3 p.m.: Outwintering beef cattle in a sane and safe way for cattle and the local environment. A winter pasture walk sponsored by UW-Extension and KGI at the Scott Hoffman/J&S Angus farm, 22103 Elderberry Drive, Soldiers Grove, Wis. Please contact Crawford County Extension Agent Vance Haugen at 608-326-0223 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
• Thursday, Feb. 20, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Ark in Viroqua, Wis. The Viroqua Food Co-op, partnering with KGI, is hosting a free showing of the film ‘American Meat’ that showcases the positive and growing movement of grass-fed meat production in the United States. Panel discussion with KGI farmers/grazing specialists to follow. See: viroquafood.coop/about/events/
• Sunday, March 2, 8–11 a.m. at the new Gays Mills Community Center meeting room. The economic and environmental benefits of rotational grazing with speakers Dr. Allen Williams, a national expert on grazing and Rod Ofte, a local organic, grass-fed beef farmer and General Manager of the Wisconsin Grass-Fed Beef Co-op. Free, but limited to 40 participants. Contact Cynthia Olmstead at email@example.com.
• Late March/April: KGI Pasture Walk on Frost seeding for pasture improvement. Date and Location to be determined.
• Wed April 23, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Viroqua, Women Caring for the Land workshop. KGI is partnering with Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service’s (MOSES) Women Caring for the Land project and Southwest Badger RC&D for this free workshop to support women landowners in our region. For more information, see womencaringfortheland.org/wisconsin/ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org (608.348.7110).
• Saturday, May 17. Two-part event at the Dennis Rooney farm near Steuben: KGI Pasture Walk, 10 a.m. – Noon & lunch, hosted by KGI, Dennis and Vance Haugen—UW-Extension. In the afternoon, 1-4 p.m., Valley Stewardship Network (www.kickapoovsn.org) is working with the Driftless Folk School to host a Rotational grazing and stream quality in-depth workshop. For more information on the afternoon workshop—contact Shelly Brenneman at 608-637-3615; email@example.com. Save the date---details to follow in April for registration.
• Tuesday, July 15, KGI Pasture Walk on Recent developments and strategies for effective managed grazing of beef and dairy herds. This walk will also feature shade structures. Hosted by Ben Wojahn of Vernon County Land & Water Conservation and farmer and entrepreneur Vince Hundt at his farm near Coon Valley. Registration details will be available in early summer.
KGI will be sending out additional information and materials as each of these events draws closer. If you’d like to be on an email list for future KGI activities or are interested in talking with our grazing specialists about your farm operation, please contact Cynthia Olmstead at firstname.lastname@example.org.