November 14, 2022


Oregon, US cooperative to test, adopt regenerative ranching practices in Western US states



The United States' largest family ranching cooperative, based in Redmond, Oregon, announced this month that it has launched a major initiative called Grazewell to test and adopt ambitious regenerative ranching practices on all of its 6.5 million acres of land across 11 Western US states by 2025.


"This is the way of the future," said Dan Probert, a founding member of Country Natural Beef (CNB). "We know ranchers can be part of the climate solution while also supporting clean water and wildlife habitat. We've seen it, and we've done it. Now we're going to measure it, track it and prove it. Climate-friendly beef is possible."


Grazewell will:


    - Reduce the carbon intensity of beef production by 50-100% compared to conventionally-raised beef;


    - Sequester 1-4 tonnes of carbon per acre, per year according to a study done in 2020. On 6.5 million acres, that's 6-26 million tonnes carbon sequestered per year;


    - Provide more than US$60 million in annual increased market returns for Grazewell-certified producers, with the ability to add more ranchers who choose to implement the programme in the future;


    - Improve soil health and rangeland productivity, enhance habitat for fish and wildlife and conserve water – with more measurements to come on these fronts.


All beef production emits greenhouse gases. But with a few simple tweaks to how they manage cattle, ranchers adopting the Grazewell programme show that those emissions can be reduced or offset.


A Grazewell ranch has cattle moving from pasture to pasture to give grass and soil a rest from grazing. Native bunchgrasses can then recover, with plants regrowing and drawing carbon dioxide from the air and storing it in the ground. The result is healthier soil, and healthier soil is proving to hold more carbon.

Grazewell ranches have a diversity of plants growing on them, which is good for cattle and wildlife. Water is conserved and shared with plants, wildlife and people. Ground cover is added, particularly native species, which helps store carbon, cool the ground, reduce runoff and improve wildlife habitat.


Unlike most beef ranching operations, Grazewell cattle, when finished, will be incorporated into a system where crops are also grown. Cattle will be finished in pastures that are also used for crop production. Then that area of pasture will be used for growing crops like corn, wheat and other crops used to feed the cattle.


CNB is working with multiple partners to help quantify and verify the climate and other environmental benefits of its practices. One partner, Sustainable Northwest, recently landed a US$10 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to measure regenerative ranching practices for Grazewell-certified producers.


"Country Natural Beef has always been a leader in regenerative ranching, but we're thrilled with their new commitment to doing even better and measuring their progress via Grazewell," said Dallas Hall Defrees, regenerative ranching programme director for Sustainable Northwest. "Regenerative ranching can support healthy fish and wildlife habitat, clean water, clean air and robust regional economies."


As the first ranching cooperative of this size and scale, CNB is demonstrating how rancher-led regenerative ranching practices can benefit range land health while supplying consumers with high-quality products. The Grazewell programme and branding is currently available to CNB members and will be available to more ranchers soon.


Video >

Follow Us