Establishing a Michigan sustainable livestock working group

Collaborators: Joseph Trumpey, University of Michigan; Shannon Brines, University of Michigan; Alex Bryan, University of Michigan

Funding: Graham Sustainability Institute Catalyst Grant, University of Michigan

In this interdisciplinary project, we are establishing a working group on the livestock supply-chain for the greater Washtenaw County region. A simple survey of the southeastern Michigan supply chain involving sustainably and humanely raised animal products shows a great imbalance. The demand from institutional purchasers and other wholesale buyers like restaurants and stores far outstrips supply. This project is: (1) connecting diverse supply chain stakeholders, and inviting them to discuss in a summit and series of meetings how to best establish a lasting working group; and (2) launching the working group with a structure and a process for continued efforts. A direct, long-term goal of the working group is to increase the capacity of sustainable livestock production in our region over the next 5-10 years, so that institutions like the University of Michigan can procure at least 25-50% of their grassfed beef, for example, from a network of local farmers. A desired, indirect goal of this research team is to establish authentic relationships with a local network of diverse stakeholders interested in sustainable livestock production. Ultimately, these partnerships will advance research efforts on the sustainability of multiple components of this supply-chain including: procurement, agroecosystems, life cycle analysis, public health impacts, climate impacts, and more.