National Winner to be Honored in April
ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 1, 2024) – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) recognized six of the nation’s top cattle operations as Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) regional winners for their environmental conservation efforts during CattleCon24 in Orlando. The regional winners will compete for the national award, which will be presented during NCBA’s Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., April 17-19, 2024.
“Cattle producers from coast to coast are committed to preserving natural resources for future generations,” said NCBA President Todd Wilkinson. “It is an honor to recognize these regional winners who utilize innovative practices and epitomize environmental stewardship.”
Regional ESAP winners undertake stewardship efforts unique to their environment, landscape and resources. The selection committee determined winners based on eligible applications received from six of the seven regions. The 2023 regional winners are:
Region I: Tuck Farms, Moneta, Virginia
Located 25 miles southeast of Roanoke, Virginia, Keith Tuck is dedicated to sustainable and environmentally conscious management on his cattle operation. Tuck Farms is adjacent to Smith Mountain Lake, which provides potable water for local communities and is a tourist destination for water recreation. Tuck’s managed grazing efforts have improved animal condition, soil health and wildlife habitat. Fencing cattle out of ponds and streams has prevented erosion and repaired banks with vegetative cover, resulting in clear water. The farm plays a positive role in the community as residential development consumes surrounding areas and serves as a picturesque setting for passing tourists.
Region II: JB Ranch, Immokalee, Florida
JB Ranch is a third-generation cow-calf operation, owned and operated by Liesa and Russell Priddy. The ranch provides important habitat for more than 20 protected animal species including panthers, the Florida state animal. Resource management goals are intertwined and inseparable, and the removal of invasive species as well as ensuring water integrity are priorities. The Priddy’s have reduced invasive plant species by 90% utilizing various methods, including mechanical removal, prescribed burning and rotational grazing. Water quality has improved with the use of control structures and solar wells. As development encroaches, JB Ranch remains an oasis, and the Priddy’s have diversified their operation by harvesting cabbage palms and sod for landscaping as well as offering guided hunts.
Region IV: G Bar C Ranch, Rosston, Texas
G Bar C Ranch, located north of Dallas, is committed to continually improving ranching practices in ways that nurture the environment. The Ellis family sees themselves as caretakers of the land, maintaining biodiversity, natural habitat and clean waterways. The ranch implements an adaptive multi-paddock strategy that rotates cattle through 58 permanently fenced pastures. The family also strives to keep carbon stored in the soil by minimizing disturbance. The Ellis family grazes in a manner that keeps the vegetative filters and sponges working effectively and prevents erosion, keeping water clear and pure.
Region V: Tower Rock Ranch, LLC, Mansfield, Washington
Since 1883 Tower Rock Ranch has been an active cattle operation. Environmental sustainability is a daily goal and cattle management practices keep water, natural habitat and wildlife top of mind. Wildfire has changed the function and appearance of the ranch many times over the years with brush and small trees consumed, leaving pastures with no shade, fence replacement a financial burden and fewer calves to market. Despite setbacks from fires, the Miller, Matsumura and Vargas families forge ahead with a commitment to protecting the environment. Tower Rock Ranch preserves habitat for sage grouse, releases beneficial insects to control Dalmatian Toadflax, and effectively manages rangeland through rotational grazing. The ranch also regularly hosts tours, training sessions and studies for agency employees, organizations, schools and fellow cattle producers.
Region VI: Hart Ranch, Montague, California
Hart Ranch, a cow-calf operation in northern California, is dedicated to landscape and watershed rejuvenation, demonstrating the tremendous positive impacts a well-managed cow herd and grazing program has on the environment. Through strategic partnerships with various organizations and state and federal agencies, the Hart family has improved on-farm water efficiency and soil health while simultaneously bettering anadromous fish species habitat through the voluntary dedication of senior, cold-spring water rights to critical streams. And they have integrated sustainable timber management with regenerative grazing practices to maximize carbon sequestration in Klamath River watershed headwater regions. These actions have benefited not only the endangered and non-threated species that call the Hart Ranch home, but also the Hart Ranch cow herd with increased carcass quality and yield grades in the final product.
Region VII: Bartholomay Kattle Kompany, Sheldon, North Dakota
Bartholomay Kattle Kompany lies on the Sheyenne Delta on the edge of the Red River Valley in southeastern North Dakota. The cow-calf operation encompasses just over 4,000 acres, which includes areas of cropland, hayland, native range and pasture. The Bartholomay family constructed a hoop barn to keep rainwater and runoff away from the feedlot and manure, and they use manure to fertilize crops and improve soil health. Understanding the importance of soil conservation, the family implemented no-till farming practices to grow corn, soybeans, wheat, oats and sunflowers in their crop rotation system. In addition, the Bartholomay’s willingness to allow research projects on their land is a testament to their dedication to progressive, environmentally friendly farming and ranching management practices.
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, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation. For more information, visit www.environmentalstewardship.org.