Cattle production a good fit with voluntary conservation practices

Calgary, AB - The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) looks forward to working with the Government of Canada on the details of the National Conservation Plan (NCP), announced today by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Canada’s beef cattle producers are conservationists by nature and sustainably manage millions of acres of land home to thousands of species including many species at risk that are present and thrive alongside well-managed livestock production.

The NCP supports voluntary conservation and restoration practices, making it a good fit with beef cattle production. Grazing for instance is essential for a properly functioning grassland ecosystem to remain healthy, noted CCA Manager of Environment and Sustainability Fawn Jackson. “Cattle producers are long-time partners with the environment and understand the importance of a working economically and environmentally viable landscape,” she said. “There are many opportunities for collaboration with producers to reach environmental goals within a working landscape under a national conservation plan.”

Approximately one-third of Canada’s 160 million acres of agricultural land, or more than 50 million acres, is grass. Producers use management practices that protect the health of the animals and the environment by protecting water sources and working towards the maintenance of a sustainable agro-ecosystem.

The same rangelands and pasture cattle graze on play a huge role in maintaining plant biodiversity, wildlife habitats, watersheds, and reducing soil erosion and greenhouse gases. Moreover, pasture lands are the preferred habitat for many species of Canadian wildlife, including some species that have been identified as being at risk. Burrowing owls, swift fox, greater prairie chicken, sage grouse, black-tailed prairie dogs, and loggerhead shrikes are all species at risk that prefer unbroken pastures as their habitat. The swift fox is one species that could be delisted soon as habitat preserved by livestock grazing enables its population to rebound.

In 2012, the benefits of well-managed grazing were acknowledged in the State of Canada’s Birds report. The national report examined the human influence on Canada’s bird populations since the 1970s, and the negatives and positives driving the trend. The report recognized cattle grazing as a positive practice that can help to preserve habitat for birds. The report said the inclusion of bison, beef and other range-fed meat in the human diet encourages the retention of pasture land.

The CCA was among a dozen stakeholder groups, representing the cattle, energy, agriculture and conservation sectors, invited to appear as witnesses before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in recent years to provide perspective on the development of a natural conservation plan.

Jackson said that modern production practices maintain and improve environmental integrity of grassland ecosystems to sustain working landscapes, conserve biodiversity and promote vibrant rural communities.
“Cattle are part of the solution,” she said.

For further information, contact:
Gina Teel
Communications Manager
Canadian Cattlemen’s Association
403-275-8558 x 306 | teelg@cattle.ca
www.cattle.ca