The six regional Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) winners were honored during the 2016 Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting. The winners hail from locations across the country, and were nominated for their outstanding efforts to protect land, air and water resources on their individual farming and ranching operations. The regional winners will now compete for the 26th national ESAP award, which will be announced in February 2017.
The awards were developed to recognize beef producers for their efforts to hep improve the environmental sustainability of their operations.
The 2016 regional winners are: Huntingdon Farm, John and Kathryn Dawes, Alexandria, Pa.; Stoney Creek Farm, Grant, Dawn and Karlie Breikreutz, Redwood Falls, Minn.; Turkey Track Ranch, Dale Smith and Jay O’Brien, Amarillo, Texas; Cherry Creek Ranch, Lon and Vicki Reukauf, Terry, Mont.; Smith Creek Ranch, LTD, Samuel Lossing, Duane Coombs, Ray Hendrix, Austin, Nev.; Black Leg Ranch, Jerry and Renae Doan; Jeremy and Ashlee Doan; Jay and Kari Doan; Jayce Doan; Shanda and Don Morgan, McKenzie, N.D.
One winner, Stoney Creek Farm, owned by Gant and Dawn Breitkreutz, is a 3rd generation commercial Red Angus farm and custom baling business located in South Central Minnesota. The family works closely with the Natural Resource Conservation Service and Minnesota DNR to implement numerous conservation practices to sustainably increase production and improve soil health. By implementing a strategic prescribed grazing plan, they have improved the health of their pastures and went from grazing 58 cow/calf pairs on 128 acres three months of the year to grazing 120 or more pairs for six months of the year.
“Grant and Dawn have been innovators of integrating cattle and prescribed grazing systems into conservation farming practices in the state of Minnesota,” said Ashley Kohls, Minnesota Cattlemen’s Association executive director. “The countless hours they spend learning more about sustainable farming practices are matched by the number of hours they spend promoting these practices and the culture of conservation to both fellow cattlemen as well as consumers.”
Another winner was the Turkey Track Ranch, owned by the Whittenburg and Cole families of Texas.
Before their purchase, the land was the site of two historic battles of the Old West between the Native Americans and the westward bound settlers, and thanks to careful stewardship, the land has remained virtually unchanged from those years. It offers remarkable beauty, history and ecological diversity, while supporting a profitable cow-calf herd and stocker operation. Increased water availability and improving grass species diversity, even after one of the worst droughts in the state’s history, have also enhanced the ranch’s success.
“What I’ve been most proud of is how we were able to weather the drought and still have the forage resources to support more cattle. And we were geared up and ready to go when the rains did come,” said Turkey Track manager Dale Smith.