2019 MFGC Conference Guest Speakers
Jim’s life and career have centered on ecologically regenerative and economically profitable livestock ranching. He is passionate about the intersection of wilderness, wildlife, food and fiber production, and land-based human cultures—all of which overlap in the space of grassland agriculture. He has managed and consulted for large landscape working ranches, mostly in native rangeland environments, across the American West, the South Island of New Zealand, the Pampean and Patagonian regions of Argentina, and peninsular Florida. He has also traveled extensively, visiting and capturing stories of progressively managed ranches across southern Africa, Australia, and Mexico. Much of his lessons are captured in his book, For the Love of Land—Global Case Studies of Grazing in Nature’s Image. He has served as the CEO of Boulder, CO-based Grasslands, LLC since 2010, where he lives with his wife, Daniela, and daughters, Savanna and Mia.
Greg is an Agricultural Economist at the University of Kentucky where he works with farmers on profitability evaluation and improvement on livestock and grain farms. Current production focus areas related to livestock are grass-finished beef, bale grazing (winter feeding technique that reduces machinery and labor and increases pasture fertility), extended season grazing, grazing systems, and how to effectively manage fixed costs of production related to haymaking (depreciation and interest). He lives and farms outside of Lexington Kentucky where he produces grass-finished beef.
Dr. ALLEN WILLIAMS
Allen Williams is a 6th generation family farmer and founding partner of Understanding Ag, LLC, Grass Fed Insights, LLC, and a partner in Joyce Farms, Inc. He has consulted with more than 4,200 farmers and ranchers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and South America on operations ranging from a few acres to over 1 million acres. Allen pioneered many of the early adaptive grazing protocols and forage finishing techniques and has spent the last fifteen years refining those. He is a “recovering academic,” having served fifteen years on the faculty at Louisiana Tech University and Mississippi State University. He holds a BS and MS in Animal Science from Clemson University and a Ph.D. in Livestock Genetics from LSU. He has authored more than 400 scientific and popular press articles, and is an invited speaker at regional, national, and international conferences and symposia. His major areas of research and business focus include soil health, cover crop/livestock integration, adaptive forage and grazing management, high attribute pasture-based meat production, and alternative marketing systems.
Dr. ASHLEY CONWAY
Dr. Conway has recently joined the Center for Agroforestry faculty as an Assistant Research Professor focused on Silvopasture. Her focus will be to provide research and outreach leadership to a silvopasture program focused on understanding forage-tree-livestock interactions in the Midwest US. She has a Ph.D. in Animal Science, 2019, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Prior to her Ph.D. she obtained an M.S. and B.S. in Animal Science at Washington State University. Following her B.S. degree, she worked from 2010-2012 as an agroforestry/agriculture extension volunteer in Zambia, Africa for the Peace Corps.
Ashley grew up on a small family farm, Conway Family Farms, LLC, located in Camas, Washington State. The farm is a family-managed herd of dairy goats (25-40) for Grade ‘A’ raw and pasteurized milk and artisan creamery. They also maintain a small flock wool sheep, chickens, and bees, cultivated commercial blueberries, lavender, and vegetables for income generation.
Harry Cope is one of a growing number of farmers nationwide using cover crops to improve soil quality and enhance their production system. He farms 1,300 acres near Truxton, Mo., where he raises cattle, sheep and goats. Cope uses management intensive grazing (MIG) on all his pasture land, and has about 115 acres in crop production. As part of his pasture rotation, livestock graze corn in the fall. This has worked well, but Cope wondered if the amount of forage available to livestock could be increased by planting a cover crop into the standing corn in July or August. Very little direct sunlight can reach the soil surface in a standing corn crop at that time of the season, so that presented Cope with a challenge: how to maintain the period that livestock have to graze the corn forage, and at the same time give a cover crop the growing conditions it needs to become established and grow well. An earlier-emerging and more robust cover crop could result in greater forage mass, higher-quality forage and lower grazing costs for sheep and cattle.
Dr. PAT KEYSER
Dr. Pat Keyser is a Professor and Director for the Center for Native Grasslands Management. In that role, Dr. Keyser conducts research and outreach programs focused on a broad range of issues pertinent to the management of native grasslands. This includes work on use of native grasses in forage production systems for livestock, biofuels production, the integration of forage and biofuels, answering specific management questions for native grasses, restoration of natural grassland communities such as woodlands and savannahs, and wildlife responses to native grasslands management. He has authored or co-authored numerous grants in support of his research and outreach activities, written more than 300 publications including 80 articles in scientific journals, directed, co-directed 14, or mentored nearly 50 graduate students, and made more than 400 presentations to a wide variety of audiences including students, scientists, and producers. He and his wife of 36 years have been blessed with four children and 3 exceptionally good-looking grandchildren and make their home in East Tennessee.
Loren Steele lives in south-central Missouri near Elk Creek. Loren loves to study how livestock can improve the natural ecosystems that God intricately created. He also has a passion for low-stress stockmanship. Loren’s current adventure involves grazing a herd of goats and cattle. He is always attuned to the interaction of the livestock with the land. Loren is married to Elizabeth and has 3 young children, Clementine, Jacob, and Otis Ray. When he is not found taking care of the livestock, Loren enjoys hunting, fishing, and playing with the kids.