Can regenerative agriculture feed the world? Factory and industrial-scale farming will always say no. But as small-scale farmers who practice regenerative agriculture, we don’t agree, and there is plenty of proof. With our world being in a state of climate crisis and with the added complexities of the current global pandemic, it has become more and more obvious that our mainstream food system is broken and needs a radical overhaul. Going back to the old way of farming might be just what is needed - on every level.
What Is Regenerative Agriculture?
Regenerative agriculture is a farming method that uses practices including no-till farming, rotational grazing which builds top soil, restores degraded soil biodiversity, reduces run-off and allows the land to hold more water and sequesters carbon in the soil - reversing climate change. (Regeneration International)
Why Does it Matter?
Soil loss is not widely known about, but it’s actually one of the greatest threats facing the environment today. Globally 25-40 tons of topsoil are lost annually to erosion—mainly as a result of ploughing and intensive cropping. Its important because 95% of our food is estimated to come directly or indirectly from soil in addition to our clothing, building materials, and antibiotics. (Rodale Institute - "The Power of the Plate, The Case for Regenerative Organic Agriculture Improving Human Health" )
Yes, But Can it Feed The World?
We did the math to show how scalable regenerative agriculture actually is based on the acre and labor of Falling Sky Farm, one of the farms in our cooperative and the farm owned by our CEO and founding farmer Cody Hopkins.
According to the USDA, the average American eats around 222 pounds of meat per year and it takes roughly 73 billion pounds of meat to feed the U.S. every year. (USDA, Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook: December 2017). Falling Sky Farm produces 236,000 pounds of grass fed and pasture raised meat per year, which is enough to feed around 1,000 Americans. It would take 310,000 farms and about 100 million acres to produce enough meat for the U.S. Currently there are around 2 million farmers in the U.S. and 915 million acres of farmland according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. (2012 Census of Agriculture)
Transforming The Way We Eat Meat
There are plenty of farms and acres of farmland in the US to support a move to a 100% of the US meat supply being produced on grass fed and pasture based regenerative farms. Transitioning to regenerative agriculture would transform the economies of rural communities, increase the overall health and wellbeing of American citizens, drastically improve animal welfare, and heal the environment in unprecedented ways. Regenerative agriculture would also create a more reliant food system through a more distributed network of small scale family farmers instead of a handful of industrialized factory farms. But for this to happen, we need to train and invest in a new generation of regenerative farmers and build a food system to support them. And that is exactly what Grass Roots is on a mission to do!