Breslin Farms

Drivers & Deterrents

Small grains bring many benefits to agricultural systems, yet most farmers in the Midwest no longer plant them in rotations. AGC worked with the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, the University of California, Davis, and Purdue University to study why farmers don’t grow more small grains, and how to support their production. Below are the resources and publications resulting from this collaborative project.

2-page summary

Small grains, or cereal crops such as barley, oats, rye, and wheat are an opportune way to re-diversity corn and soybean rotations and are shown to have multiple economic and ecological benefits. This summary encapsulates the study to examine the decline and the factors that could increase adoption of small grains on farms.

full summary


This research sought to identify the barriers farmers face to growing small grains and the factors that have helped some to be successful in their small grain production. We did so through a survey of 406 farmers and interviews and focus groups with 39 farmers and non-farming agricultural professionals who engage with or support grain production in the states of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin in 2022.

full report

"To enable strong agricultural markets and support farmers to produce small grains, it will be important to
1) invest in market development, on- and off-farm infrastructure, and improved varieties;
2) level the playing field with corn and soybeans in terms of subsidies and supply mandates; and
3) leverage the drivers of existing small grain acreage—certified organic production, the integration of crops and livestock, systems thinking, and cover crop use."

—Drivers and deterrents of small grain adoption in the Upper Midwest