The study was instigated by a group of upstate farmers (Mr. Baker is himself a Beef Farmer) to explore how to best utilize the 3 million acres of unused pastureland in New York State. It will also serve as resource for grass-fed producers and will continue next year.
When asked what he felt was the solution to Upstate New York’s devastated agricultural sector he answered: “Use of the 3 million acres is going to have to be a patchwork of organic and conventional farmers working together.” This outlook is refreshing. We do need more farmers, processors, artisan butchers, creameries, marketplaces and local middlemen to help farmers bring their products to us. The more farmers we have in each community the better chance there is for us all to succeed. The more communities are invested in farming the better.
Next year the study will be more organized and will measure weight gain more intensely, monitor grass intake and the body condition score of the carcass after slaughter. Mike Baker also mentioned that other aspects need to be explored like breeding, age at slaughter and the amount of land needed. “The propose is to make our land useful but most importantly profitable.” Studies like this are essential to understanding what goes into grass finishing so that it can be an option for more producers in New York State. The quality and profitability of American grass-fed beef has a long way to go but it is with the help of dedicated academics, farmers, chefs and customers that we can create a world-class product on our pastures. I believe that grass-fed beef could become a big part of a solution for utilizing our land and our vicinity to New York City is going to play a major part in this grass-fed renewal.
The steers are set to go to slaughter in a few weeks so there will be a lot more info to talk about then. I would really like to get press coverage for this study, as it is so important for grass-fed farmers to have an academic basis for finishing their beef. If you are interested in this study please contact me at ullabear (at) yahoo.com or contact Cornell.
An article I wrote for Goodlifer about the grass-fed beef movement upstate A Quiet Grass-fed Revolution.