All beef cattle operations in Canada are eligible to apply for The Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA). Beef producers interested in TESA can apply by filling out the application form found on this page.
Producers can either nominate themselves, another individual or be nominated by an organization. All methods are equally encouraged.
To download the TESA application form click here.
2019 provincial environmental stewardship award recipients
Exceptional management practices used by beef producers to achieve sustainable production goals on their farms and ranches deserve recognition through environmental stewardship awards. In August, one provincial award recipient will be recognized at the national level with the CCA’s The Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA) during the CCA’s 2019 semi-annual meeting at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference (CBIC) in Calgary, AB. Of course, TESA has been recognizing stewardship since 1996 and our archives contain more examples of notable efforts.
The 2019 recipients will be added as they are announced by their provincial associations:
Alberta Beef Producers 2019 Environmental Stewardship Award - Recipient is Randy and Sandra Radau, Coulee Crest Farms
Coulee Crest Farms is in Red Deer County, Alberta. Owned and operated by Randy and Sandra Radau, the 90-year-old ranch makes environmental stewardship a priority, with the message that cattle, the environment and wildlife can co-exist and thrive now and into the future.
Coulee Crest utilizes a rotational grazing system with more than 50 different fields grazed by the purebred Hereford and commercial cattle they run. They also graze their cattle on stubble left by their grain operation, while composted manure is spread over their cropland. Springs were developed and fenced off to provide a fresh water source for cattle, and solar-powered watering systems are used to pull water offsite from a fenced dugout, keeping cattle away from the source and preventing runoff.
Other initiatives include the restoration of a 30-acre wetland area; initiating an extensive farm recycling program; and managing the land to maintain many wildflower species including crocuses, wood lilies, buffalo beans and lady slippers. Treed native areas have been fenced off for wildlife habitat, which includes deer, elk, moose, ducks, geese, hawks, eagles and cougar; and raptor nests were built to provide natural gopher control.
“My dad instilled in me the importance of stewardship and taking care of the wildlife and the environment, and I’ve tried to pass that on to our kids,” he noted. “It seems to be working – my son Luke is graduating university and he’s wanting to come home to the farm and take over.” Luke, added Radau, will be renewing the operation’s environmental farm plan, which is due for renewal.
“We’re always trying to improve soil health, the water quality and the grass health,” he stressed. “By doing that, it’ll improve the long-term viability of the operation as well as the environment.”
Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association 2019 Environmental Stewardship Award - Recipient is Randy and Terry Stokke, Willow Creek Ranch
Randy and Terry Stokke of Willow Creek Ranch are long-time advocates for prairie conservation and preservation of species at risk. They have implemented far-sighted conservation practices to preserve their native grass pastures with a goal to maintain a healthy and diverse natural prairie habitat through careful management of grass and timely rotations of pastureland.
The couple and their three sons Monty, Garret and Jay and their families, run 400 mother cows along with yearlings and horses on 14,000 acres. The land includes diverse wildlife, including over 50 species of birds and other wildlife and about nine species at risk, including the Swift Fox. Located in Consul, the ranch is in the driest portion of Saskatchewan’s mixed grassland ecoregion, with average annual precipitation less than 12 inches and water deficits greater than two inches.
The 14,000 acres is comprised of native range comprising mostly Crown grazing lease lands with about 10 per cent of that being private. Fencing is minimal. The range is divided into only five management units in an extensive approach to manage livestock distribution. Pastures are used on a rest rotation – units used for spring grazing are rotated annually to disperse grazing pressure and ensure the resilience of native forage is sustained over time. Ninety per cent of their pasture is native prairie, with the remainder in crested wheat grass and irrigated hay for spring and winter feed. Creeks run through almost every one of their fields.
The ranch, recently Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) certified, utilizes new technologies and science to make livestock production as efficient as possible. Stokke is a tireless advocate for the co-benefits of sustainable grazing and wildlife and regularly shares his knowledge with conservation organizations, federal and provincial wildlife officials and wildlife experts.
More recently, Stokke has been working with Environment and Climate Change Canada on conservation agreements that would protect landowners from the prohibitive regulations surrounding protective orders under the Species at Risk Act. His goal is to see programs implemented that will work with landowners to conserve grasslands and provide incentives to keep native grasslands as they are. Good stewardship of the land ensures sustainability and longevity of the grassland resource for future generations.
Manitoba Beef Producers’ 2019 The Environmental Sustainability Award - Recipient is Cameron and Lisa Hodgins, Hodgins Farm
Cameron and Lisa Hodgins of Hodgins Farm near Lenore, Manitoba. The third-generation family farm located in the Arrow Hills which features rolling shale top hills and clay loam fields with numerous sloughs and tree bluffs.
The Hodgins currently manage about 1,850 acres of mainly perennial pasture and hay land, own 1,120 acres and the rest is leased. They manage a family-owned herd of 140 cow-calf pairs and 120 yearlings, along with 60 custom grazed cow-calf pairs, as well as other livestock and honey bee hives. The farm is mainly perennial pasture and hay land that is home to many different species of wildlife.
Raising beef on a pasture-based system is one of the only commodity agriculture practices that allows an ecosystem to function in its normal state, Cameron said. The couple work closely with and manage their cow herds together with Cameron’s parents, Ed and Debra Hodgins, who 20 years earlier gained a certified organic designation. This set the family on a path to learn about the natural processes that function within the ecosystems and how to manage those processes and later transition to holistic management practices.
This includes a planned grazing system using temporary electric fencing, to move cattle, and varying stocking densities to balance animal nutrition and pasture growth. A solar-powered remote watering system protects riparian areas and improves water quality for the cattle. Bale grazing is used as winter feed and to add nutrients back into the soil. Multispecies cover crops help extend the grazing season while providing a high level of nutrition to the cattle and priming the soil fertility for the next year’s crop.
The Hodgins share their knowledge with producers. To bridge the gap between consumer and producer, they have hosted Open Farm Day, kid’s day camps, and pasture tours, and utilized social media to promote environmental sustainability and farm life.
Beef Farmers of Ontario’s 2019 The Environmental Stewardship Award - Recipient is Steve and Amanda Sickle, Sickle Farms
Sickle Farms operates in the sandy loam hills of South Dumfries Township in Brant County. Steve and his family own 350 acres, farm 900 acres and provide custom work for another 500 acres, while also pasturing 25 cow-calf pairs. The crop rotation includes corn, soybeans, wheat and hay, and almost always includes a cover crop to help prevent erosion.
Steve has always been an early adopter and ambassador for soil and water conservation on his farm; practices that began with his father, Bill, in the 1970s and 80s, and which Steve continues and improves on today.
Fencing the cattle out of the watercourses and wetlands on the farm, installing a solar powered water bowl on the corner of three fields, and transitioning to rotational grazing are just a few of the projects completed in the last decade. An intensive cover crop and intercropping plan and no-till farming practices have also been implemented. All these projects and plans have led to the improved resiliency of his crops and infiltration of his soil.
Steve believes that it is better to have living roots in the soil year-round. “It seems like we’ve been leaving the farm in better shape with each generation. The land is what grows the crops, so let’s leave it better than we found it.”
Over the years, Steve has taken advantage of funding through both the Grand River Conservation Authority’s Rural Water Quality Program and Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association’s Species-At-Risk Farm Incentive Program to implement several projects on the farm.
Sickle Farms has long had an Environmental Farm Plan in place, and Steve has held leadership roles with the local, regional and provincial Soil and Crop Improvement Associations, among others, and is a member of the Ontario Soil Network.
B.C. Cattlemen's Association 2019 Ranch Sustainability Award - Recipient is Clifton Ranch, Wade and Sandra Clifton and Brad and Dianne Clifton
Wade Clifton and his family ranch near Keremeos, in B.C.’s Similkameen Valley. Clifton learned early about the benefits of environmental stewardship, and today continues to share that knowledge with fellow producers as well as those not familiar with the cattle industry.
Clifton shares the ranch’s range grazing best practices with fellow ranchers and government staff. As well, education is ongoing with the public and non-ranching community about the importance of range health, which includes invasive plant management and protection of habitat. “When we have people here, they can see the grasslands are still being protected, the species are still being protected. We explain how it works and people get excited when they see we’re helping to make the environment better,” he said.
Making the environment “better” is a long-term goal of Clifton Ranch which utilizes three ranges in the Princeton, Shuttle Creek and White Lake areas. Rotational pasture grazing is managed with the use of multiple float troughs and range fencing, and thousands of feet of pipe.
With 500 cow-calf pairs plus 50-70 bulls on test along with beef sales, Clifton Ranch is a busy place, complete with calving ground, feedlot, riparian areas and irrigated hay land. The cattle are grazed on owned, leased and crown grazing lands – in total about 60,000 acres.
The Clifton’s maximize their feed production on-farm by growing forage varieties suited to the Keremeos climate with the help of irrigation. They cut hay three times per year, allowing for the removal of the forage crop and resumption of irrigation and plant growth which, in turn, minimizes drought stress and maximizes growing potential.
The hot, dry and mainly sunny climate of the Similkameen Valley means challenges for beef producers. One of the main challenges is steep terrain and lack of water sources. However, they have successfully managed their existing water with a creative series of about 100 water troughs.
In 2000, the Nature Trust of British Columbia first partnered with Clifton Ranch with the establishment of the White Lake Basin Biodiversity Ranch. The aim of the program was to showcase species at risk management by conserving and restoring natural grassland and associated ecosystems. Born from the program, the Keremeos Creek Fencing Project included fence installation along two kilometres of Keremeos Creek and development of alternate cattle watering facilities, thus protecting sensitive spawning habitat for Rainbow and Brook trout and enabling recovery of habitat for yellow-breasted chat, a songbird.