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2021 Environmental Stewardship Award Regional winners

2021 Environmental Stewardship Award Regional winners

Seven top cattle operations across the nation were honored as Environmental Stewardship Award Program regional winners during the 2022 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Show in Houston. The regional winners will compete to win the national award which will be presented at NCBA’s Summer Business Meeting in Reno (Nevada), July 25-28th, 2022.

Jerry Bohn, President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, stated that cattlemen and women across America preserve natural resources while producing safe and high-quality beef products. These farms and ranches show the commitment of all producers towards protecting and improving the environment for future generations.

Regional ESAP recipients come from all parts of the country, and they take stewardship actions that are specific to their environment and landscape. These are the 2021 regional winners:

Region I: EZ Acres, LLC, Homer, New York

Mike and Pete McMahon, brothers, manage more that 2,500 acres of the sixth generation family-owned dairy cattle farm and beef operation. The McMahons dedicate themselves to protecting the three watersheds that their farm has an impact on by monitoring soil and taking water samples, stabilizing streambanks with the planting of willow shrubs, as well as managing manure. EZ Acres communicates the conservation message through farm tours and meetings to civic groups, schools and churches.

Region II: Vaughn Farms Forsyth Georgia

James Vaughn, his spouse, children, and sister manage almost 5,600 acres. They are responsible for producing forage crops and providing pastureland to their cattle. They also manage timberland for energy, pulp, lumber, and other uses. The family farm is committed to protecting the watershed. They control cattle access to streams and distribute grazing pressure using rotational-grazing systems. They also maintain hayfields and pastures with proper fertilation and weed control practices. These environmental stewardship practices have made significant changes to stream banks that are now fully vegetated. They also provide clean areas for cattle watering and protect the soil from erosion. The Vaughns are also home to a variety groups that educate the public on the benefits of agriculture, as well as explaining sustainable production methods and environmental practices.

Region III: Robbins Land & Cattle Scranton, Iowa

Justin and Lacie Robbins run their Iowa row crop operation and cattle operation based upon responsible use of natural resource. The Robbins use cover crops to reduce weed pressure and input costs while still retaining essential nutrients. Their purebred Angus operation is supported by the Robbins family’s efforts to improve soil health and water quality through cover crop seeding and rotational grazing. The couple saw an opportunity to add value by selling their homegrown beef online. The farm-totable section of their business allowed the family to connect with consumers all over the country and share information on the importance of agriculture.

Region IV: Dry Creek Ranch in San Angelo, Texas

After a 26 year career in the U.S Army Veterinary Corps, Carl and Pat returned home to the family ranch to set up a registered Hereford cattle shed and continue conservation and improvement practices. The Schlinkes’ ranch has always been driven by their family’s motto of excellence and sustainability. They built six miles of fencing to protect creek banks and reduce watershed contamination. The Schlinkes worked closely with local conservationists in order to manage the water absorbing cedar and mesquite trees on the property, and establish a strong food program through seeding/aeration.

Region V: Joe C King & Sons Ranch in Winnett, Montana

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The King family believes that Montana’s native range should be left intact so that cattle, wildlife, and the environment can co-exist harmoniously and work together in a mutually beneficial way. The ranch’s sustainability efforts have been driven by a commitment to improving grazing management over the past 50 years. The ranch’s rest-rotation system allows vegetation and soils to recover. This provides habitat for wildlife and improves plant and soil health. It also provides forage for emergency use during drought years and offers opportunities to implement long-term rangeland improvements during rest periods.

Region VI: JY Ferry & Son, Inc., Corinne, Utah

JY Ferry & Son has been committed to sustainability for over 100 years. They have a long history of conservation focusing primarily on agricultural practices that conserve water and energy. The Ferry family knows that sustainability is integral to the business’s economic viability. The business’ stability is ensured by strategic partnerships with local conservation groups, government agencies, and regulators. The operation’s primary goal is to increase economic sustainability through improved water efficiency on the farm by laser leveling, piping the ditches, and utilizing soil health principles like cover crops and reduced work.

Region VII: Blair Brothers Angus Ranch Vale (South Dakota)

Blair Brothers Angus Ranch is a family owned ranch that focuses on conservation practices that enhance soil and water quality. Blair Brothers Angus Ranch has been able to implement progressive changes because of their commitment to conservation. The ranch has been able to implement progressive change through strategic planning. This includes investing heavily in irrigation and fencing infrastructure; operating a short-duration rotational grass grazing program that addresses forage and livestock needs; using low-stress cattle handling methods; exploring vegetative treatment areas for nutrient control in their feedlot system; treating all leased pastures like their own and educating landowners about conservation methods to better manage their land and water.

Established by the National Cattlemens Beef Association, to recognize outstanding land stewards of the cattle industry in 1991, the Environmental Stewardship Program (ESAP), is generously sponsored Corteva Agriscience and McDonalds by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. (NRCS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Cattlemens Foundation. Visit for more information. 

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