It often an untold story, but for generations, ranching families have lead conservation efforts across the United States. Today’s cattlemen are some of America’s last living embodiments of true environmentalism. With generations of families living off the land, they have an innate love for the land and appreciation for land preservation. These hard-working families are dedicated to caring for the resources and species on their land. They know first-hand that good management demands they care for the environment – for their own welfare –as well as for future generations.
Cattlemen, as individuals and as an industry, are actively working to protect and improve the environment. They know environmental stewardship and good business go hand-in-hand.
For almost two decades, the Environmental Stewardship Awards Program (ESAP) has been recognizing outstanding stewards in the cattle industry—producers who go above and beyond when it comes to conservation. These winners are prime examples of how environmental management benefits both the cattlemen's bottom line and the resources in their care. The goal of the Environmental Stewardship Award Program is to acknowledge producers who go the extra mile when it comes to preserving and enhancing the resources on their land.
Did you know?
Grazing is an efficient use of a renewable resource. In fact, all rangeland evolved because of ruminant grazing. Cattle play a central role in the miraculous chain of sun to grass to human food.
Grazing utilizes one of this country’s most abundant, natural, renewable resources. Ruminants have the ability to efficiently convert low-energy grasses and other forage into nutritious, high-protein beef. Cellulose is the most abundant chemical component of plants, and it is the most abundant organic chemical on earth. It is indigestible by humans, but from 30 to 80 percent of the cellulosic material eaten by ruminants, such as cattle, is digested.
Farming and ranching sustain open spaces and aesthetic features, which contribute to recreational opportunities as well as wildlife habitat. When farm or ranch land is converted to development, serious social, ecological and economic problems result. Generations of a family’s work are lost, society loses the wide open spaces that characterize rural places, and agricultural-based economies die out. The viability of ecosystems is threatened if pasture and grasslands are destroyed.
American agriculture is essential to feeding the nation and the world. In fact, less than 2 percent of the U.S. population feeds this country and 70 million other people around the globe. Central to this success story is the dedication of U.S. cattlemen and the inherent ability of cattle to efficiently convert certain natural resources – often unfit for any other purpose – into protein for humans.
Cattle producers actively participate in the Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation programs to help reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damages caused by floods and other natural disasters. Public benefits include enhanced natural resources that help sustain agricultural productivity and environmental quality while supporting continued economic development, recreation, and scenic beauty. Centuries of dedication to the land exemplify this.
Without U.S. cattle producers, someone must take care of the millions of public land acres in this country in a sustainable manner. If ranchers were no longer allowed to take care of these lands, the government would have to manage them, at a much higher cost to U.S. taxpayers.
The United States has millions of acres of public rangeland that must be properly managed if it is to provide the products and values desired by society. Managed grazing is the ideal conservation solution, and centuries of dedication to the land exemplify this.
For more information:
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative
“Good Grazing” from NPR News