In an AP article I found on the Seattle Times, they talk about farmers in Wisconsin who are switching from the CAFO (concentrated animal farming operation) approach to a grazing system for their cattle. Here are a few interesting excerpts —
Most milking operations in the state during the latter half of the 20th century used the so-called confinement approach: Animals that were milked twice a day mostly were kept inside, feed was brought to them, and manure was carted away.
Only 7 percent of Wisconsin dairy farmers used the grazing approach in 1993… That increased to 23 percent by 2003 and indications are that the percentage is growing.
“The approach slightly reduces production, but farmers’ costs go down more significantly,” with less barn space and equipment needed, Foltz said.
Confinement became popular when more machinery was becoming available to farmers, and equipment, fuel and labor were cheaper… But the cost of fuel and equipment are much higher now, and many farmers sent their kids to college and many of them subsequently didn’t stick around on the farms…
So you can actually make more money by producing less. To top it off, you can do it with less labor! Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Too bad our federal government hasn’t caught on and they still continue to push the Earl Butz way of Produce More, No Matter What The (environmental) Cost.