Feeding a Population with Smaller Scale and Alternate System Production

March 22, 2013 - Daimon C. Meeh, Jason E. Rowntree, Michael W. Hamm

Feeding a population with smaller scale and alternate system production: An examination of farm requirements with a multi-species pasture system to feed 10 million people


Current agricultural and food systems literature suggests multiple opportunities for improving systemic sustainability. Especially in the popular press, many authors have conceptualized a return to smaller scale diversified production as a strategy to feed America sustainably. This study explores this notion for components of our meat supply using approaches reported in one of the most popular of these books, Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, as a touchstone. We examine the land footprint and number of farms required to produce beef, chicken and eggs for the state of Michigan (a population just under 10,000,000) using similar production strategies to those outlined in Pollan's book. To feed Michigan's population at a scale of production demonstrated on the highlighted farm in Pollan's book, and an average level of Midwest intake for beef, chicken and eggs would require approximately 3600 farms and 6.5 million acres of farmland to produce 100% of the beef, 100% of the eggs and about 50% of the broiler chickens for this population. The strategy is discussed in reference to existing farms and acreage in Michigan and put in the context of sustainability within our food supply.


consumption patterns; grain-based; grass-finished; liveweight; multi-species pasture rotation systems (MSPR); pasture-based


Meeh, Daimon, Jason Rowntree and Michael Hamm (2013). Feeding a population with smaller scale and alternate system production: An examination of farm requirements with a multispecies pasture system to feed 10 million people. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 29(2) 176-185.


Corresponding author

Mike Hamm mhamm@msu.edu

This research paper is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1742170513000070


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