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Beefing up sustainability in Manitoba
Beefing up sustainability in Manitoba

The province’s cattle sector was recognized for its environmental stewardship efforts

By Kate Ayers
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Manitoba’s beef sector received top honours during a recent awards presentation, proving its commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability.

The Association of Manitoba Community Pastures (AMCP) received the 2017 Manitoba Excellence in Sustainability Award from Manitoba Sustainable Development on May 22.

Manitoba Beef Producers received an honourable mention for its role with the Species at Risk Partnership on Agricultural Lands (SARPAL) initiative, a Manitoba Beef Producers release said on Friday.

“We are largely cow-calf folks, so we are all about the grass and producing our animals on pasture. For us, (the awards are) about recognition of a lot of the public trust and environmental benefits that are derived because of our modern practices,” Brian Lemon, Manitoba Beef Producers general manager, said to Farms.com today.

The presentation was “recognition that agriculture can be used as a tool to achieve conservation objectives.”

In fact, cattle pastures and haylands make up the largest source of natural habitat in the province’s agricultural region, he added.

Beef production can play a role in mitigating many environmental concerns, Ben E. Fox, Manitoba Beef Producers president, said in the release.

Cattle farmers protect the habitats of at-risk species and preserve the province’s grasslands.

“Where bison once grazed and maintained natural grasslands, cattle now have an important place in the protection and maintenance of this threatened natural ecosystem. Helping protect healthy grasslands and water supplies is beneficial not only for beef production, but for the overall environment,” Fox said.

“As beef producers, we are some of the best stewards of the environment and have long recognized the importance of a healthy environment to our industry and the integral role that producers play in protecting it.”

Manitoba Beef Producers supports the SARPAL initiative, which offers cost-share funding to promote grassland management practices that protect the habitat of grassland birds. The program has impacted 9,884 acres (4,000 hectares) in just one year, the release said.

Also, ACMP’s work is important for the province’s beef sector and protects over 350,000 acres (141,640 hectares) of grassland in 20 pastures. The association’s efforts enhance water filtration and retention, carbon sequestration, soil conservation and habitat protection.

“I think that we have a good story to tell about how sustainable our (beef) production practices are,” Lemon said.