The National Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA) is being presented tonight as part of the Canadian Cattle Association's Semi-Annual Meetings in British Columbia.
TESA recognizes producers who go above and beyond standard industry conservation practices, and set positive examples for other cattle producers and the general public.
Producers are nominated at a Provincial level with the winners moving on to the National Award with this year's nominees representing B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.
Alberta's nominee's are Jerry and Dawn Baerg of Ribbon Creek Ranch near Linden.
The ranch is a mixed operation with grain and cattle.
Jerry runs the cow-calf operation with his wife and family, while he works with his Dad on the grain side.
Initially the farm was 1,500 acres of mostly cultivated land growing grain and hay, with a small backgrounding operation.
In the early 2000s, Jerry transitioned the backgrounding operation into a progressive commercial cattle operation and would later start his own cow herd in 2013.
In an article with the Alberta Beef Producers magazine he says that part has been a lot of fun for me, building the herd on my own.
"I’ve always enjoyed cattle. It may be a little harder work, but I’ve always felt it was worth it. With a family growing up, it’s a nice occupation. there’s a lot of work we can do together like calving and sorting pairs. It feels like a family project."
Jerry has also purchased a second property which features native grasslands, and rented additional land for summer grazing to give pastures a prolonged rest period.
Over time he has fenced off riparian areas, creeks, and lowlands, and uses electric fencing to create smaller paddocks for rotational grazing.
He is also in the process of seeding cropland back to perennial grass to increase grazing capacity and support a growing cow herd.
A key part of his operation involves extended grazing and allowing cows to be out on the land year-round and spreading nutrients to regenerate the soil.
Jerry and Dawn Baerg of Ribbon Creek Ranch near Linden are The Environmental Stewardship Award winners for Alberta, the national award presentation takes place tonight as part of the CCA's meetings.
CCA Officer Tyler Fulton says the Semi-Annual meetings brings together producers and industry representatives adding there's a number of key issues on the agenda.
"It's a great opportunity for directors of the Canadian Cattle Association to be part of those concurrent meetings, and meet in our regular committee meetings that include domestic ag, the environment, animal health and foreign trade. Those are all some of the committees that are doing critical work. "
He notes this is a good opportunity to have everybody in the same room and really figure out what the best route forward is on some of these critical issues.
Among the critical issues on the agenda is foreign trade and trade barriers.
The CCA continues to have concerns around CETA - The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Europe, and a potential new agreement with the U-K and ensuring that they have reciprocity and trade there.
On the domestic agriculture front there's a number of key issues for the group and they're not all related to business risk management tools, but also looking at what kind of programs will be associated with ecological goods and services.
He notes he's also looking forward to hearing about a proposed pilot program for Alberta focusing on a possible alternative to an insurance based risk management program for the beef industry, which is different from the Western Livestock Insurance Program which is currently in place.