The award will be presented on Aug. 12
By Diego Flammini
Four families from across Western Canada and Ontario are up for a prestigious environmental award from the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA).
Paul De Jong, owner and operator of Charlton Angus Cattle Company in Charlton, Ont., Thomas and Felicity Hagan from Hagan Valley Ranch near Virden, Man. and Jeff Smith, representing Deer Creek Livestock Ranch near Milk River, Alta., are nominated for The Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA).
Ricky and Chad Seelhof of Woodjam Ranch in Horsefly, B.C., round out the list of nominees.
Each nominee also received honours from their provincial beef producer organizations for their environmental stewardship practices.
CCA has presented the national award since 1996 to recognize farmers and ranchers who implement innovation and environmental stewardship as part of their business.
“Each nominee exemplifies significant innovation and attention to a wide range of environmental stewardship aspects in their beef operations,” Duane Thompson, chair of the CCA’s environment committee, said during the online nominee presentation. “Such innovations extend beneficially to areas far beyond their own land base.”
De Jong, for example, uses a rotational grazing strategy, fences off sensitive wetlands and provides off-stream watering for his cattle. He completes soil tests to determine fertilizer application timing and location, and performs limited tillage.
The Hagans focus on soil health and grazing practices to achieve a balance between production, profitability and a healthy environment. In addition, the ranchers have cross-fenced to create paddocks based on soil type to help enable a strategic grazing rotation on a daily or even twice-daily basis during growing periods.
Jeff Smith and his partners at Deer Creek Livestock Ranch have implemented practices to manage vegetation, wetlands, soil and water systems, and wildlife.
And the Seelhofs’ ranch has 16 tributary creeks running through it, so the family have taken measures to ensure those bodies of water remain healthy. They plant willow to prevent spring flooding on the ranch, have restored and fenced off riparian areas and installed off-stream watering devices.
Each of these families try to balance profitability with environmental conservation.
De Jong, for example, has come up with a formula he uses to determine if his practices are worth the investment.
“I’ve come up with four management areas that comprise air, water, food and shelter,” he said during the online presentation. “By maximizing the balance between all those, we achieved the best-quality forage for our cows but also the best sustainability of our environment. And by doing that we’ll ensure a better bottom line in the long run.”
CCA will present the award during a virtual ceremony on Aug. 12.
Farms.com congratulates all the nominees!