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Writer Says Hydroponics Could Break Forage Bottleneck

Dear Source,
At the recent St. Croix Agricultural Fair, an amount of people equivalent to the entire population of St. Croix passed through. Clearly, there is still interest in agriculture on the island though the activity of livestock raising has been in decline.
The island also has dairy cattle, sheep and goats. Horses are farmed here both for racing and pleasure.
There is poultry as chickens raised for meat and eggs. When I was a child I can remember there being a few people who raised their own turkeys, ducks, doves and quail. There has never been a lot of rabbit farming though it is common in Denmark.
The livestock industry used to be driven by beef and our native Senepol. The Annaly Farms herd has dropped from 1500 head to 200. The Nelthropps sold their herd to a rancher in Puerto Rico. The Gasperis have a herd up in Florida. A number of smaller Senepol operators have ceased while dairy has been level. If we have dairy we still have the potential for veal. Veal
farmers buy male calves for fattening from dairy herds.
This island still has the potential to grow considerably in the production of food. There are
young people who would like to have a full or part-time career in the area. Beef cattle ranchers have
utilized extensive tracts of land. The tracts were acquired in all cases before the boom of the sixties.
All cattle principally grazed on grass. Land was cheap. Grain was an expense.
Veal farmers, horse farmers, farmers who would raise sheep, goats and rabbits all need forage. Despite the boom there are a number of tracts of land which could be used for these as they do not require the pasture of beef. On the other hand they do require pasture. Herds and flocks need to be a certain size to be economic. If a farmer has none or not enough it is difficult to buy. The cattle and dairy majors raise enough for their own stock.
On the one hand, a would-be farmer has too little forage on the other there is not enough demand for
forage as cash crop for landowners to raise it. This is leading to land dispersion for residential use and speculation. I think that it would help solve this bottleneck if fodder were to be produced by hydroponics. As land prices have gone up and systems prices down, it makes more sense. A shed a thousand square feet can raise a fresh ton.
It would actually increase the area in pasture because the livestock would go up with the supply as the average prices for forage prices went down. The livestock still needs exercise space and fiber.
Rick Bond
St. Croix and Boston, Mass

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