NEW ORLEANS (Feb. 1, 2023) – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) recognized seven of the nation’s top cattle operations as Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) regional winners for their environmental conservation efforts during the 2023 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show in New Orleans. The regional winners will compete for the national award, which will be presented during NCBA’s Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., April 24-27, 2023.
“Farming and ranching families across the country continue to incorporate practices that protect and preserve land and water resources for future generations,” said NCBA President Don Schiefelbein. “These regional winners represent the cattle industry’s commitment to environmental stewardship.”
Regional ESAP winners come from every corner of the country and undertake stewardship efforts unique to their environment, landscape and resources. The 2022 regional winners are:
Region I: Lamb Farms, Inc., Oakfield, New York
The Lamb and Veazey families farm more than 12,000 acres over three locations as part of their dairy operation. Located within three watersheds, Lamb Farms, Inc. has made it a priority to operate their dairy with environmental practices at the forefront of their management decisions. By implementing strip tilling practices, the farm has dramatically reduced ground disturbance, allowing earthworms, fungi and other soil organisms to thrive, improving the farm’s soil health. The farm also uses a cover crop program which helps reduce the need for fertilizers and herbicides, prevents erosion and protects water quality. Two anaerobic digestors also capture methane and generate energy for electricity and clean natural gas.
Region II: Carter Cattle Company, LLC, Pintlala, Alabama
Sustainability began as a lifestyle more than a practice seven generations ago in the mid-1820s when the farm was established. Management decisions are made with the future in mind, with a forage-based feeding program through rotational grazing a priority. Rotational grazing has been vital to improving the overall health of the farm ecosystem, soil health, forage base, watershed, livestock and wildlife. Through conservation incentives offered under the Watershed Project and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Carters installed 2,000 feet of water lines to two new water troughs, protected 1,250 square feet of heavy use areas and built 1,300 feet of fence to exclude cattle from Pintlala Creek. These efforts help the Carters utilize the land in the most effective way for their cow herd while protecting natural resources. In addition, being good stewards doesn’t stop at the farm gate, as both Will and Monnie Carter are veterinarians who care for other animals in their community.
Region III: Huth Polled Herefords and S&H Livestock Enterprises, LLC, Oakfield, Wisconsin
Over the past 60 years, Jerry Huth has established a reputation for genetics and cattle which are productive and profitable in their environments. Josh Scharf first joined the operation as an employee then transitioned into ownership through S&H Livestock Enterprises. Together, their expanded enterprise required more pasture, leading the team to pursue utilizing 130 acres of state-managed public land that borders the farm. The public-private partnership to graze state land has been beneficial to the sustainability and expansion of the operation while also providing environmental and habitat benefits to public land. Jerry and Josh ensure pastures maintain good soil health by effectively managing stocking rates and resting pastures. These practices produce nutritious, dense and high-energy vegetation for cattle and reduce erosion and water runoff.
Region IV: Parks Ranch, Goliad County, Texas
Raised in Corpus Christi, David Crow started his career with his family’s trucking and concrete business, but his passion for the cattle industry drove him to pursue ranching. The first-generation cattle producer bought his first cattle in 1978 and purchased the 4,200-acre Parks Ranch in 2000. David and his son, Matt, have a strong history of managing coastal prairie consistently implementing conservation management techniques including winter and summer prescribed burns, brush management, and rotational grazing plans. These techniques have resulted in a greater density and diversity of native grasses and forbs, which in turn support a greater diversity of native wildlife, including white-tailed deer and bobwhite quail. The Crows continue to conduct quail and deer surveys as a tool to measure the success of their efforts, maintain healthy populations, inform their habitat management practices, and achieve their goals of maintaining a healthy coastal prairie that supports a diverse array of species.
Region V: Mannix Brothers Ranch, Helmville, Montana
Mannix Brothers Ranch began in 1882 and now the fourth and fifth generations steward the land and livestock. Brothers David, Randy and Brent, along with their wives and children manage the diversified ranching business, which includes a cow-calf program, stocker program, timber entity, direct-to-consumer beef program as well as a restaurant. The brothers credit previous generations for conservation ideals, work ethic and the continued desire to coexist with wildlife, land and people. The family is focused on improving soil health, and intensive rotational grazing resulted in using less irrigation water and little to no fertilizer, while increasing production on the ground. A band of sheep reduced invasive species such as knapweed and increased plant diversity. The family also partners with numerous resource organizations to complete projects that promote habitat improvements along with promoting agriculture and sustainable ranching practices.
Region VI: Fulstone Ranches, Smith, Nevada
The Fulstone family has been working the land and raising livestock in Nevada since 1856, and today the ranch is operated by the sixth and seventh generations. Fulstone Ranches works cooperatively with state and federal agencies, universities and non-profits to bring resources and expertise to solve natural resource challenges. The family works tirelessly fine tuning their operation to improve not only forage quality for livestock, but to also sustain the habitat for wildlife species such as the Bi-State Sage-Grouse. They changed the duration and timing of grazing and removed pinyon-juniper to increase water availability and reduce competition with other desired plant species. The Fulstones are also on the forefront of soil health using worm tea, a natural liquid fertilizer made from worm castings. Water retention has increased as has the quality of feed.
Region VII: Jorgensen Land & Cattle Partnership, Ideal, South Dakota
Soil and animal health are the primary drivers for practices implemented at Jorgensen Land & Cattle. Grazing rotations are developed based on the impacts to soil health, livestock feed demands, and the wildlife benefit created from good cover and plant diversity. Rotational grazing has increased grazing efficiency and improved the productivity of the grassland. The ranch practices diverse crop rotations, integrates livestock grazing on both grassland and cropland, and adds as few external inputs to the cropping or pasture systems as possible. In addition to the cattle operation, Jorgensen grows 12,000 non-irrigated acres of crops every year using no-till, which has helped improve soil structure and nutrient efficiency.
Established in 1991 by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to recognize outstanding land stewards in the cattle industry, the Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) is generously sponsored by USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Corteva Agriscience, McDonald’s, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation. For more information, visit www.environmentalstewardship.org.