Pullman – Don Nelson, WSU Extension beef specialist,
has received a two-year $81,000 Ag Pilot grant from the state to test the feasibility and replicability of converting land coming out of the Conservation Reserve Program, into a vertically integrated grass-fed beef production system.
 
The Conservation Reserve Program was created by the 1985 Farm Bill to remove highly erodible crop and pasture land from production for 10 to 15 years. Farmers receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance for practices to protect the land in exchange for voluntary agreements to remove designated acres out of production for 10 to 15 years.
 
More than 1 million acres of land in Washington is enrolled in CRP.
 
“This pilot seeks to test a holistic approach to the profitable production of value-added natural or organic grass-fed beef by becoming an
integral part of the production chain based on cooperation of the segments from conception to consumption,” Nelson said.
 
“We seek to develop a replicable strategy to help farmers make the transition from conventional drylandwheat production to sustainable alternatives that are profitable, good for the environment and that allow farmers to remain on the land and support rural communities.”
 
The study will take place at G & L Farms in the southeast corner of Adams County.  Gregg Beckley, owner of the farm, will be co-project manager.
 
The Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network will serve as the fiscal agent for this project. The WSFFN is a grassroots, statewide advocacy organization for sustainable agriculture and family farms in Washington.