Forages – Defining Sustainability Before It Was Cool

Forage systems provide the basis for livestock production systems in the United States. In fact, the reach of forages is so extensive, they are located in almost every county within every state in the nation! Today, the forage-livestock industry is often under fire and deemed as a negative contributor to the environment. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, forages define sustainability through their positive contributions to society, agricultural production, and the economy in America.

Forages are used to convert cellulose to high-quality milk and protein for consumers.

Did you know that forages are largely grown in areas where other crops are not productive? Instead of being a resource that we cannot use, grazing livestock can convert forages into high-quality milk or protein for human consumption. Livestock also recycle nutrients back to the pasture which can help with forage regrowth and promote healthy soils. It is a system that gives back and keeps going with management.

Forages are used for conservation.

Forages promote soil health by providing ground cover, reducing erosion, improving water infiltration and retention, and help with nutrient cycling.

Forages are used for beautification.

Forages are often used as part of roadside cover mixes, add beauty and diversity to the landscape, and provide aesthetic value as part of the landscape of American agriculture.

Forages are used for wildlife habitat and recreation.

Healthy forage systems promote habitat for many types of wildlife. Many farms enjoy the benefits of diverse wildlife and utilize this for recreational purposes. Forages also provide the landscape for time spent together with family checking on animals, waterers, and pasture production. In many ways, forages reconnect us with the most important things in life.

Reconnect with agriculture during National Forage Week.

This year for National Forage Week, take a drive out of town and spend some time viewing the landscape. Think about how YOU are connected to forage agriculture. Remember that forage-based agriculture provides high-quality products for consumers, and the farmer who dedicates their time to provide a better livelihood for all.

As the leader and voice of economically and environmentally sound forage focused agriculture, the American Forage and Grassland Council (AFGC) needs your help in sharing impacts of forages on the world. Share your experience with forages and how they impact you as part of National Forage Week during June 20-26, 2021! Use the hashtag #NationalForageWeek on social media to share your story. Help AFGC spread the word about forages by following our Facebook page and sharing our posts during the week!

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