Riparian Grazing – Why don’t we do the right thing?

From March of 2018, Troy Bishopp takes a look at growing concerns over riparian management and its effect on water quality, farmers and ranchers are facing tightening regulations and restrictions on grazing next to streams and water bodies. Here, Troy wonders if we, as graziers, are doing all we can to protect water quality and our grazing future. At the 2018 Northeast Pasture Consortium meeting, Erik Hagen, USDA Agricultural Research Service Planning Project Coordinator, shared the results of a 4-year study of riparian grazing management. His conclusion was, “It’s fairly obvious that the field side of the buffer needs quality management of land cover for the whole ecosystem to function well. It’s been difficult to have a set program, given all the perspectives. Currently, regulations and policy are disengaged from reality.” I can see those “perspectives” and regulations at work. In the highly regulated Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) “pollution diet” areas of the Chesapeake Bay, and in the Northeast watersheds where I farm and work, farmers are under intense pressure to keep animals away from waterbodies, no matter what. Some states, like Vermont and Maryland, have actually mandated livestock stay out. The reason, according to many agency professionals, “We must put these practices in place for the mediocre manager.” Wow! We need to protect our precious resources from ourselves?  If that’s the case, we need to spend more time looking i

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