PASTURE AND GRASSLANDS
Pasture and rangelands are found in all 50 states, covering more than a quarter of the total acreage of the entire 48 contiguous U.S. states. In fact, pasture and grazing land accounts for the largest use of private land in the U.S. – even more than crops or forests. Pasture lands are primarily used to support livestock, including beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, and horses. It’s no surprise that pasturelands require so much space – with over 100 million head of cattle, the U.S. is the world’s top producer of both beef and milk.
In addition to using pasture land for grazing, farmers harvest grasses and legumes such as ryegrass, fescue, and alfalfa to make hay to feed animals during winter months or times of inclement weather. Grasslands are also important for our environment. Many wild native plant and animal species, including deer, hawks, foxes, pheasants, and songbirds, rely on grass and pasture lands for their habitats. In addition, farmers and ranchers who practice good grazing land management can capture carbon in their soils, helping to fight climate change.