National Forage Week Is June 16-22

June 17, 2024, 12:37 pm | Beth Reynolds, Erika Lundy-Woolfolk

Round bale of hay.AMES, Iowa – With the first hay crop harvested, summertime for forage growers is in full swing. In addition to being the primary feed source for ruminants, forages bring many values to farms and surrounding communities.

To celebrate the many benefits of the forage industry, the American Forage and Grassland Council will host the 10th annual National Forage Week June 16-22.

What is the significance of forage?

Forages play many roles ecologically and economically.

  • Forages capture and recycle vital nutrients, enhancing soil fertility.
  • Well-rooted forages improve soil structure, increase water infiltration and reduce erosion.
  • Forages act as a natural filtration system for water, trapping sediment and pollutants and improving the water quality of rivers, streams and aquifers.
  • Forages help support diverse ecosystems by providing habitats for other plants and animal species. Increasing biodiversity helps keep an ecological balance.
  • Forages help remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.
  • For most livestock, forages are their primary feed source, providing nutrients like protein and fiber. Because of this, forages also indirectly supply the globe with a vital protein source.
  • Forages are the foundation of many agricultural economies and support producers and rural communities through livestock production and related industries.

Forages in Iowa

  • In 2023, Iowa ranked seventh nationally for hay production and fourth for corn silage acres.
  • Iowa harvests over 11 million tons of forage annually, ranging from alfalfa to corn silage, which is estimated to have an economic value of $1.2 billion.
  • There are over 2.1 million acres in pasture and rangeland in the state.
  • Iowa is home to over 37 million head of beef and dairy cows with a high percentage of their diet sourced from forage alone. It takes approximately 10 pounds of forage to produce one pound of beef.


The American Forage and Grassland Council has 22 affiliate councils, including the Iowa Forage and Grassland Council. Both the AFGC and IFGC organizations are dedicated to promoting the sustainable use and profitable production of forages and grasslands in the state.

The IFGC organization is led by a board of directors compromised of agricultural producers, industry stakeholders and educators to advance forage production in the state. IFGC hosts or supports a variety of forage-focused meetings throughout the year, including its annual meeting generally held in February. Regardless of membership, all who have a vested interest in Iowa’s forage production are invited to attend.

To learn more about the Iowa Forage and Grassland Council including how to join the organization, visit

(This article was co-written by Dacia Schoulte, communication specialist intern with the Iowa Beef Center.)

Shareable photo: Round bale of hay.

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