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.
2018 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 2018 semi-annual meeting at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference (CBIC) in London, ON. Of course, TESA has been recognizing stewardship since 1996 and our archives contain more examples of notable efforts.
The 2018 recipients will be added as they are announced by their provincial associations:
Alberta Beef Producers 2018 Environmental Stewardship Award - Recipient is Ian and Carman Murray, Shoestring Ranch
Shoestring Ranch is a cow-calf and crop operation with 180 pairs.The Murrays retain calves for a natural beef program. They began shifting the environmental focus of the ranch through pasture management, but once they switched to focus more on the soil, everything came together. The ranch practices minimum tillage when seeding crops to keep residue anchored in the soil and protect the structure to prevent erosion.
Dugouts are fenced off with several solar power watering systems to provide better quality water for the cattle and support healthy riparian areas. Shelterbelts are maintained to protect from wind erosion and provide wildlife habitat. Ian's goal is to improve upon the utilization of their land, production, cattle and pastures, as well as improve the health of the soil and the cleanliness of their water.
Ian’s involvement in the industry and community leadership further proves his commitment to environmental ranching practices. He served as chair with both the Foothills Forage and Grazing Association and the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta. He was an early adaptor of the Verified Beef Production program and Environmental Farm Plan.
Ian and Carman Murray and family.
Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association 2018 Environmental Stewardship Award - Blain and Naomi Hjertaas, Hjertaas Farm
Located near Redvers in southeast Saskatchewan, the Hjertaas farm has been in the family for 102 years with Blain and his wife Naomi being the third generation. Blain’s grandparents and parent before him were committed to farming in a manner that was in unison with the environment. Approximately 20 years ago, the Hjertaas’s made the switch from grain to grass farming. They had always been involved in zero and/or minimal tillage to conserve their light soils. One of the primary motivators for the switch to grass production was to improve soil health. In 2003, Blain learned about holistic management and they subsequently adopted its principles. The holistic management system has enabled the family to make progress, relatively rapidly, and has enabled the family's fourth generation to enter the farming business. Their supply of grass exceeds their needs and the custom cattle they graze annually. Another factor in their success is in increasing grass production while maintaining soil health is solar capture. The energy makes sugar (photosynthesis) and sends that down to the roots where a good percentage becomes root exudates to feed the soil microbiology; helping to make and build soil.
Manitoba Beef Producers’ 2018 The Environmental Sustainability Award - Recipient is Brian and Sonja Harper, Circle H Farms
Circle H Farms is family run purebred operation situated on light soils, which can present challenges such as soil erosion and vulnerability during drought. The Harpers use strategies to deal with that, including planting perennial forage and perennial crops, as well as more than 5,000 trees. They have installed off‐site watering systems, dug wells to feed water lines, and use a solar powered winter water system. The Harpers carefully managed their grazing practices; after starting with rotational grazing they moved to high stock density management or adaptive multi‐paddock grazing - a system using a short graze of a few hours to one day on an area, followed by a long rest period. As part of this approach, the Harpers participated in a project funded through the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The project aimed to showcase management practices that improve profitability and environmental sustainability. This system has generated positive results for the Harpers. From 2014‐2017 beef production increased by 9,400 pounds off the same 130 acres. Zero inputs were used, just animal impact and time management. As the Harpers note, regenerating soils pays dividends and creates a healthy ecosystem. In 2017 Circle H Farms was selected to be part of the Canadian National Carbon Sequestration study, a multi‐year on farm/ranch study that will compare high stock density grazing management compared to conventional pasture management.
Beef Farmers of Ontario’s 2018 The Environmental Stewardship Award - Recipient is Sandra Vos, owner of a grass-fed beef operation in Paris, ON.
As the sole operator and owner of a cow-calf operation in Brant County, Sandra has demonstrated her commitment to the environment by focusing on pasture management, caring for waterways, and protecting wildlife habitat. A great deal of Sandra’s environmental management begins with her well-maintained rotational grazing system. With 80 acres of land to work with, moving the cattle regularly enables her to maximize the potential of her limited land-base by allowing adequate recovery time for each section of pasture. The installation of aboveground water lines has improved Sandra’s grazing system by providing easy access to water for the cattle, while simultaneously enabling her to fence off the creek to keep the cattle out of the waterway. Fencing off the bush area has provided a space for deer and birds, while piling any downed trees and scrub in some of the pastures serves as both a habitat for wildlife and a natural scratching post for the cattle. "In 2001, the farm consisted of bare land, no driveways, two entrances on two roads to maneuver the creek, and a farmer [me] who knew nothing about farming,” shares Sandra. “I recognized early on that 80 acres was pretty small compared to the neighbouring farms. My overall goals were to take care of the land so it would take care of me, and build a business around my capabilities.”
Over the years, Sandra has been successful in receiving support for her environmental projects through a number of programs and organizations. One such example is the Canada Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem (COA) through which she received funding and staff support to build a bridge to allow the cattle and farm equipment to cross the creek. Recently, two pieces of the farm have also been decreed Provincial Significant Wetlands.
Nova Scotia Cattle Producers, on behalf of the Maritime Beef Council - Larry and Pat Ward, Willow Pond Farm, 2017 recipient of Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture’s Environmental Stewardship Award
Located in Higginsville, Halifax County, Willow Pond Farm is comprised of 33 Hereford cows and their calves, 25 acres of pasture, 100 acres of hayfields, 100 acres of woodlot and three wetland areas.
The Wards bought the farm in 1973 and since then have made numerous farming decisions that have contributed greatly to the surrounding environment. Over 35 years ago, the Wards cooperated with Ducks Unlimited to create a large wetland on the farm property. This wetland provides habitat for numerous water fowl, shorebirds, raptors, fish, amphibians, turtles and small mammals. The farm recently completed an Agricultural Biodiversity Conservation plan through the Department of Natural Resources, which identifies wildlife habitat on the farm and provides recommendations on how to make enhancements.
A Nutrient Management Plan helps manage manure, fertilizer and lime application rates to improve soil fertility and crop production while not contributing to nutrient buildup or losses to the environment. Cattle are rotationally grazed, which improves pasture productivity and reduces over-grazing. The pastured cattle access water from a water tub which is gravity fed from a large dug pond, allowing the Wards to fence cattle from watercourses. The farm uses a no-till seeder to renovate pastures which improves the health and productivity of the fields and helps prevent soil erosion.