Northeast Iowa, located within the four-state Driftless Region of the United States, boasts beautiful scenery with towering bluffs, rolling hills, quiet valleys, cold water trout streams, freshwater springs, and waterfalls Although breathtaking, this beautiful landscape poses unique challenges for the farmers in Northeast Iowa.
World markets dictate an increased pressure to convert or keep acres in traditional cropping systems, yet many producers in Northeast Iowa realize the steep hillsides and narrow stream corridors of their land may not always be suitable for corn and soybeans. As a result, the area is still a holdout for traditional livestock-grazing operations and is gaining popularity with producers who are looking to participate in a growing niche market garnering global attention – grass finished food.
Although grass fed beef has been increasing in popularity for several years, the grass fed “movement” is no longer restricted to beef. The health benefits of grass fed lamb, pastured poultry and pork, and cage free eggs are becoming more well-known and backed by scientific studies.
Research shows the grass fed market has increased between 25% to 30% annually over the last decade. Northeast Iowa producers are contributing to this trend and maximizing a landscape that is excellent for pasture and hay. They are responding to a food sysytem movement that is fueled by more informed, health-concious consumers who support practices that are healthy for animals, people, local communities and the land.
Healthier Land = Healthier Animals = High-end Products = New Markets & Increased Demand = Thriving Local Economies