Falmouth (Rural Roots Canada) – A commercial and pure-bred cow-calf operation from Nova Scotia is this year’s winner of The Environmental Stewardship Award from the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

Dean and Catherine Manning from Falmouth won the 2021 award which recognizes producers who go above and beyond standard conservation practices to care for the land and environment.

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Dean says it came as a surprise because the competition from other operations across the country was so high-caliber.

He says their stewardship practices began with small steps, like fencing off a stream when they returned to the farm in 1997.

“We were always kind of interested in rotational and grazing management,” Manning said.

He adds they enjoy managing their grass resource with their livestock and have seen results of their hard work.

“We’ve tried everything from high impact strip grazing to maybe a little more extensive put and take systems.”

The practices eventually expanded into wintering some animals outside as well.

Larry Thomas, who is the Manager of Environment and Sustainability with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association says there were a number of things that stood out about the Manning’s operation, which got everyone on the judging panel excited.

So much so when he started to describe it, he used a Bart Simpson quote.

“Holy cow, these folks are into a lot of really cool stuff, and they’re making some measurable improvement over time,” Thomas said.

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Catherine says their Environmental Farm Plan records have really helped them stay the course over the years.

“It’s hard to know if we don’t have those benchmarks and good accurate records of those benchmarks.”

She adds that it is hard to see the improvements or quantify what they’ve done and why they’ve done it.

She understands that people may think record keeping is a real nuisance, she feels that way sometimes, but that they really do pay-off.

“I have boxes and boxes of records and they are valuable to have just to prove that, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea or was a good idea.”

This year marked the 25th Anniversary of the award.