Farm Fresh: How Will Harris is changing the face of farming (with a little help from Joe Rogan)

Once in a while we come across something on the internet that just needs to be shared with as many people as possible. And Joe Rogan’s interview of pioneering regenerative farmer, Will Harris, is one of those things.

Will Harris is the owner of the very successful grass-fed beef farm White Oak Pastures, and is a fourth generation land steward and stockman tending the same land that his great-grandfather settled in 1866. Born and raised on the land, Will studied Animal Science at the University of Georgia’s School of Agriculture.

For the last 25 years, Will has been working on changing the farming and production model on his farm, transitioning to more regenerative practices that support natural, healthy behaviour for both animals and plants. Moving to regeneration has allowed his farm to be highly resilient and productive without needing to use conventional agriculture systems and inputs.

We highly recommend watching the full episode which discusses greenwashing, how hipsters destroyed farming, cow hormone implants, how Harris strengthened his topsoil, and the next generation of ag. But in case you don’t have two and a half hours to spare, here’s a summary:

Our top 3 takeaways from the Joe Rogan x Will Harris interview

🥇 Regenerative practices need to be taught in agricultural schools more often so farms can be profitable and healthy

Mr. Harris shared that a lot of what is taught in agricultural programs is ultimately focused on profit and yield, and doesn’t take into consideration the holistic needs of an agricultural system that will allow it to produce high quality food and support high quality livestock for generations.

For example, the importance of soil microbes is sometimes skipped and at other times microbes have even been demonized as a contaminant. And animal welfare is generally framed around industrial agriculture norms and/or needs: temperature, food, water, no unnecessary pain or harm inflicted on animals, without spending enough time educating students about the importance of allowing animals to engage in natural behaviour like rooting, pecking or scratching.

🥈 Not everything needs to be scalable

What Mr. Harris has done on his farm to find such success, resiliency and longevity will not work for everyone, and is not necessarily scalable, and he knows this. And that’s ok. Because in the world of regenerative agriculture, things don’t need to be scalable. Sometimes it’s alright to simply learn from others and then replicate the parts of their success story that are relevant to your needs and implement those techniques in your own agricultural context.

🥉 Change needs to come from consumers, and producers need to provide the opportunity to make the necessary changes

There is a lot of debate online right now about the roles of consumers, companies, and governments. Ideally, these entities will work in tandem, each doing their part to create, propel, and support regenerative ag. Ultimately, though, governments and companies (in a democracy, at least) must eventually respond to what the market and voters demand.

And, if consumers patronize regenerative operations, that will go a long way to helping the spread of regen ag in society.

We think Will Harris is doing an incredible job of demonstrating the possibilities of regenerative ag, and we can’t wait to see what he does next!

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