Can small farms truly "meat" the US meat demand?
First off, we should note that we are proponents of Americans eating less but better quality meat raised on grass-fed and pasture-based farms that use regenerative farming practices. But, when examining whether it’s feasible for small farms in this country to produce the amount of meat the U.S. needs, we looked at current consumption rates. And, in short, the answer is “yes.” Here’s how we got to our conclusion.
The average American eats 222 pounds of meat per year. At that rate, and with a current population of 328 million, it takes 73 billion pounds of meat to feed the U.S. every year.
Falling Sky Farm, one of the Grass Roots’s producers, harvests 236,000 pounds of grass-fed and pasture-raised meat per year—which is enough to feed around 1000 Americans eating 222 pounds of meat every year.
At that rate it would take 310,000 farms with the same output to produce the equivalent of the 73 billion pounds of meat the United States consumers eat every year.
Falling Sky Farm raises this meat on a little over 300 acres. So it would take about 100 million acres to produce the meat for the US. Currently there are around 2 million farmers in the U.S. and 915 million acres of farmland. So, the short answer is that, yes, there are plenty of farms and acres of farmland in the US to support a move to a 100% of the U.S. meat supply being produced on grass-fed and pasture-based, regenerative farms.
This food system shift would transform the economies of rural communities, drastically improve animal welfare, and heal the environment in unprecedented ways. It would create a food system reliant on a distributed network of farmers instead of large concentrated industrialized factory farms.
But for this to happen, we need to train and invest in a new generation of regenerative farmers and build a food system to support them. And that is exactly what Grass Roots is on a mission to do!