Calgary, AB-The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) is pleased to announce The David Francis Farm, of Lady Fane, Prince Edward Island (PEI) as the recipient of the 2017 The Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA). The seventh-generation farm is operated by father and son team David and Brett Francis and families.
Soil conservation remains a primary focus at the potato and 80 cow-calf beef operation, with David and his wife, Vicki Francis, and their five children, having made continual improvements to the land during nearly four decades of farming. They have installed thousands of feet of soil conservation features, while respecting the land they farm and the natural environment surrounding their designated Century Farm.
CCA Environment Committee Chair Bob Lowe said the David Francis Farm’s longstanding commitment to soil conservation, reflected in investments in sustainable agriculture practices and modern technology to ensure a sustainable farm for generations to come, is what earned the Francis families the 2017 TESA.
“Through sharing his extensive knowledge about sustainable agriculture practices, David has played a major role in raising public awareness about sustainable agriculture and encouraging many farmers to participate in stewardship activities,” Lowe said. “This, along with the Francis family’s commitment to managing the sandy soils in a manner that benefits their environments, while also meeting and in some instances exceeding strict environmental regulations, demonstrates the commitment to sustainability that the TESA embodies.”
Lowe presented David Francis with the 2017 TESA this evening at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference (CBIC) in Calgary, AB. David, on behalf of his wife Vicki and son Brett and family, expressed sincere gratitude as he accepted the award, a sterling silver TESA belt buckle and local artwork. David acknowledged the other nominees “I’m sure they just pulled a name out of a hat. They are all wonderful farmers,” he said. “I’d like to thank the Cattlemen’s Association, It’s truly an honour.”
PEIs sandy soils are very susceptible to wind and water erosion. Sudden rainfall events and other extreme weather can have devastating effects on farmland and can cause soil erosion resulting in washouts or runoff.
In 1991, the David Francis Farm became one of the first farms in PEI to install an integrated soil conservation system. Grassed waterways and buffer zones, natural filters that help slow down and filter runoff before it leaves the field, are among the measures used to reduce soil erosion and help safeguard the health of the adjacent streams and wetlands.
Further improvements were made through the PEI Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) program, which assists farmers in reducing soil erosion, increasing wildlife habitat and reducing the impacts of climate change. In addition to fencing to keep cattle from streams and waterways, the Francis’ have made major investments in fencing for a rotational grazing system on 120 acres of pasture, and are seeing positive results in weight gain and herd health for their animals.
The David Francis Farm, a nominee of the PEI Cattle Producers, on behalf of the Maritime Beef Council, is the first farm from the Atlantic region to participate in the TESA program’s 21-year history.