Soul of Farming: The Power of Grazing with Kevin Mahalko
Organic Valley farmer-owner Kevin Mahalko’s passion and enthusiasm for organic, 100% grass-fed dairy farming and the power of grazing to heal instead of harm is boundless.
In a way, Kevin says, the way they farm today isn’t totally different than the way they farmed in the past. “My dad always adhered to wise farming traditions, like the value of grass and saving seeds and trying to be self-reliant by growing as much of your own feed as possible.”
As board president and grazing specialist for the Wisconsin-based nonprofit Grassworks, Kevin visits many farms and has seen first-hand how grazing works wonders for the land and for the animals. He believes that Organic Valley has played a big role in the success of grass-based dairies by introducing the first organic 100% grass-fed milk to market, Grassmilk®.
“In all my travels around Wisconsin, I have heard many positive comments from people who are interested in Grassmilk® dairy products. But more than that, I’m certain the benefits of grass-fed foods go way beyond nutrition.”
Since getting their herd of cows and switching to a farming system that focuses on grazing, Kevin and his dad have seen a huge improvement in the farm’s soil, biodiversity, water quality, and overall ecology -- all because of pasturing the cows. “The cows have, without any doubt, improved the whole landscape.”
His strong belief in advancing the science behind organic agriculture led him to collaborate with universities like University of Wisconsin–Madison, University of Minnesota, Penn State University and University of New Hampshire on organic research projects and the development of research priorities. “I do believe grazing is both an art and a science,” he says. “The pasture can’t grow as well without the cow. The cow can’t grow as well without the pasture. It’s just a natural fit.”
"I do believe grazing is both an art and a science. The pasture can’t grow as well without the cow. The cow can’t grow as well without the pasture. It’s just a natural fit."
Kevin has advocated for policy support of both organic and grass-based agriculture at the state and federal level. He educates tirelessly and is a frequent speaker at conferences. His strong, impactful advocacy for the organic community and his knowledge, passion and drive to improve organic agriculture are truly inspiring. In light of all that, Kevin was recognized with the Organic Valley Leadership in Sustainability Award in 2017!
In this Soul of Farming video, hear Kevin speak to his passion for grass-based farming, and see the love he shows to his pastured cows. It’s clear that he loves what he does, and we’re grateful he’s one of Organic Valley’s 2,000-plus farmer-owners.