Beef Producer Demand for Grazing Public Land: Opportunities and Constraints

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2015: $9,997.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2017
Grant Recipient: University of Wisconsin
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:


  • Animals: bovine
  • Animal Products: meat


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, feed management, grazing management, grazing - rotational, rangeland/pasture management
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships

    Proposal abstract:

    My aim is to understand the beef producer perspective on the potential for grazing as a conservation practice on public lands. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) land managers face resource constraints that challenge them to meet conservation land management goals. Increasing rates of woody species encroachment interfere with conservation of the state’s grassland heritage, threatening rare grassland species, upland game species that utilize grasslands, and other ecosystem services of value to the public. Additionally, beef producers cite land access as an important constraint to their operations, especially for beginning farmers. Research has shown managed, rotational grazing to have positive ecological benefits on grasslands such as control of non- native grasses and annual vegetation, and improved biodiversity and soil infiltration rates. Grazing public grasslands offers a win-win opportunity for beef producers and WDNR land managers, but is a relatively untested model in Wisconsin. Through a contingent valuation survey, focus groups, and education and outreach, this project will derive and share information on beef livestock producer demand for renting pastureland, perceptions of opportunities and challenges associated with grazing public land, desirable contract terms, and characteristics of interested producers. This information will allow land managers to better design grazing programs based on producer needs and constraints. Grazing brokers, grazing associations, and other interested parties will be able to use the information to facilitate partnerships between beef graziers and public land managers. In the long-term, information collected during this project will contribute to eventual use of grazing as a land management tool on public land. The potential benefits of the project are twofold. First, it can improve the profitability of farmers and associated agricultural businesses by illuminating and accelerating the potential for public lands to be made available for grazing and provide a potentially valuable source of forage at a profitable rental rate. Second, it can help sustain and improve the provisioning of ecosystem services from public grasslands, as it will provide WDNR land managers an affordable and effective way to maintain and manage grasslands. More broadly, the project contributes to the overall quality of life for farmers, rural and urban communities, and society as a whole by improving environmental quality and supporting new agricultural opportunities. I will evaluate project effectiveness to assess changes in knowledge and practice, especially increased knowledge of producer concerns and needs, increased brokering of public-private grazing partnerships, and implementation of grazing for conservation land management.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The primary outcome will be an estimated beef producer demand curve for renting pastureland to be used by land managers, grazing brokers, extension agents and others to make land management decisions and broker partnerships. From this emerges four learning outcomes and two action outcomes.

    The learning outcomes are (1) Beef producers will learn what fellow producers are excited and concerned about regarding pasture rental broadly, as well as concerns specific to renting public land. (2) Beef producers and land managers will know desirable contract terms from the producer perspective, how producers feel about renting public land, and the types of producers who would be willing to rent public land. (3) This knowledge will increase public land manager confidence in grazing as a land management tool while simultaneously increasing producer willingness to engage in such partnership. (4) Another result of the project will be knowledge of where interested producers are generally located which will help with the brokering of public-private partnerships.


    With respect to the action outcomes, a short-term outcome will be that grazing brokers, grazing associations, and other interested parties facilitate partnerships between graziers and public land managers using the information gathered from my project. A long-term outcome will be the use of grazing as a land management tool as a result of changes in practices by both producers and public land managers.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.