Productive agriculture and conservation go hand in hand.
That’s why Certified Angus Beef and Ducks Unlimited are collaborating to support family ranchers in boosting soil health, preserving wildlife habitat, and sequestering carbon. Together, the two organizations assembled half a million dollars to launch the Working Grasslands Conservation Initiative, which has since secured an additional $2.5 million in grants to fund the initiatives’ work over the next three years.
“Certified Angus Beef is committed to demonstrating the value of beef production beyond a great steak,” says Bruce Cobb, executive vice president of production for Certified Angus Beef. “Healthy ecosystems come along as a byproduct of raising the best tasting beef.”
The three-year initiative includes financial and technical assistance to interested landowners in the Northern Great Plains, notes Billy Gascoigne, Director of Agriculture and Strategic Partnerships for Ducks Unlimited. “This collaborative work rallies around ranchers,” he says, noting that beef producers face growing challenges to remain profitable and sustainable. “Ranchers are the stewards of our remaining grasslands and wetlands in some of our most priority landscapes.”
“Together, we can deploy more voluntary, incentive-based programs that work for the rancher while advancing carbon sequestration, clean water and biodiversity,” says Cobb.
The Northern Great Plains are the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR), which hosts more than 4 million ducks in its grass biomes.
Historically, half to as much as 80% of North American waterfowl utilize the PPR to nest and rear their young. This same region has been important to ruminant animals for centuries – first bison, now cattle.
“We know these grasslands evolved with grazing animals—an important factor in rangeland and soil health,” Gascoigne adds. “Working in this landscape for 85 years, we recognize that proactive work with private owners—farmers and ranchers—lets us achieve a lot more win-wins at a scale important to the sustainability of waterfowl and cattle production.”
One of the best ways to maintain these vital grasslands are through livestock integration on family farms and ranches.
“These lands are more sustainable now and in the future when they are being stewarded by ranchers grazing livestock,” Gascoigne says. “Our conservation staff live in these same communities and are vested in developing programs that meet local needs. We sit down at the kitchen tables with farm families and identify solutions through fencing, water development, cover-crop seeding, soil health evaluations, and rotational grazing to make better grass and wetland conditions.”
The people at Ducks Unlimited understand conservation biology, rangeland health and agronomy. Gascoigne adds, “We know less about how to drive value back to these ranchers so they can be economically sustainable for generations to come. The experience of Certified Angus Beef in this realm is what’s so powerful about this work: to have diversity within the sustainability views of economics—environmental, social and cultural.”
Both organizations understand maintaining grasslands requires sustained ranching. The Working Grasslands Conservation Initiative is a unique partnership for a unique time, supporting important ecosystems through family ranching.
Who is Certified Angus Beef ?
The original Angus beef brand. Based in Wooster, Ohio and owned by family farmers and ranchers, we’re more than just Angus beef. Only the very best makes our cut. We set strict standards to certify every bite is tender, juicy and full of flavor, whether you’re cooking at home or dining at the best steakhouse. It’s why we’re the world’s most trusted beef brand and have been since 1978. For more information, visit CertifiedAngusBeef.com, follow the brand on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn, or join the brand’s Steakholder Rewards™ loyalty program.
About Ducks Unlimited
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.