Doug and Erika Fossen of Bar 7 Ranch took home the TESA for 2022
By Diego Flammini
The Fossen Family. Canadian Cattle Association photo.
Ranchers from Rock Creek, B.C. received a national honour from the Canadian Cattle Association (CCA).
Doug and Erika Fossen, owners of Bar 7 Ranch, won The Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA) for 2022.
CCA has awarded the TESA each year since 1996 to recognize outstanding stewardship efforts of Canadian beef producers.
“It’s a very big honour for us,” Doug told Farms.com. “It’s nice to know that what you’re working at is being recognized.”
The Fossens, which include three daughters, Adele, Jade and Reine, operate a 350 head commercial cow-calf herd along with 80 replacement heifers and 18 bulls. They also background about 100 calves every winter.
Their operation spans over 2,300 acres of deeded land and grazing leases on private and Crown land.
Ranching while considering environmental footprints has always been part of the Fossens’ plan.
Raising cattle in their part of B.C. means working with what the land provides, Doug said.
“Ranching in southern B.C., we’re always working around canyons or mountains,” he said. “In order to be successful here, you have to work around that environment.”
Irrigation is one area the Fossens have improved over the years.
The ranch relies on surface irrigation water, meaning water is only available when it’s flowing down from creeks.
“We irrigate basically out of four creeks that all flow into the Kettle River,” Doug said. “In the spring we have sufficient water and in the fall, it gets harder to irrigate so we’ve done irrigation improvements to make our ranch more efficient that way.”
Enhancing soil health is another focus for the Fossens.
It started with zero-till seeding about 30 years ago, Doug said.
Now it includes mixing peas with grain crops and managing cattle with fences.
“Instead of having a feedlot where we’re concentrating all those nutrients on the ground and having to haul them to the field, we’re active in moving our cattle around in the winter. That’s really improved our nutrients on the soils where we need them and has helped with drought too.”
Sustainability and efficiency are two popular topics in agriculture.
But farming with those themes in mind help keep business afloat, Fossen said.
“Throwing inputs at our land and thinking it’s sustainable wasn’t an option,” he said. “When we switched our irrigation to pivots, it cut our water use and cut our labour and cut our power bill. We’re able to produce more beef without working as hard at it.”
Producers from B.C. and Saskatchewan have won the TESA the most times since the award’s inception.
Farmers from each province have taken home the award six times.