Gary and Sue Price, 77 Ranch, Blooming Grove, Texas, are the national winner of the NCBA Environmental Stewardship Award Program.
The award, presented during the 2013 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show, recognizes the family’s outstanding environmental stewardship of their ranch. The land under their stewardship is under tremendous pressure from urban and suburban development because it is just 53 miles from the ever-growing Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area. Thanks to their efforts, a jewel of prairie still exists, complete with native grasses and habitat.
"Cattlemen and women across the country understand the pressures of urban encroachment. At 77 Ranch the Prices have shown how stewardship and continuous improvement can benefit the environment while also improving the productivity of our lands," said NCBA Chief Executive Officer Forrest Roberts. "For example, as a result of the extensive wetland conservation work of the Prices, Gary and Sue Price had enough standing forage to sustain their entire herd through all of 2011– with no additional hay or feed purchases."
Roberts pointed out that although the majority of producers in their area were destocking their ranches and marketing their calves early, the Prices were able to maintain their entire herd and their normal production schedule for the year.
"Their ability to maintain their natural resources while also maintaining their ranch speaks volumes about the management techniques and stewardship of the Prices," said Roberts.
The Prices began assembling their ranch as a young couple 36 years ago. Over the years, they have carefully purchased land that joins their original ranch, or that is nearby. The land under their management ranges from farmed-out cotton fields to untouched remnants of the Blackland Prairie.
As a result of their extensive improvements and efforts to preserve wildlife habitat, Gary and Sue Price have been honored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with the statewide Lone Star Land Steward award. They welcome students of all ages – youth to adult – to their ranch for tours, field days and outings. Gary is a sought-after speaker on the topic of range management and cattle production in a native range environment. They tell their story about their partnerships with Ducks Unlimited and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), and how these partnerships help them find creative solutions to land management problems such as flood control and maintaining water quality while providing wildlife habitat.
ESAP, now in its 22nd year, was created to recognize beef producers who make environmental stewardship a priority on their farms and ranches while they also improve production and profitability. The ESAP award is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences; USDA-NRCS; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; NCBA; and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation. Dave Owens, the range and pasture portfolio leader for Dow AgroSciences, said the award recognizes the work beef producers do to conserve and improve the land and its resources. Dow AgroSciences has sponsored the program for the last 13 years.
"The regional winners and this year’s national winner 77 Ranch, exemplify the outstanding innovation of American farmers and Ranchers," Owens said. "The work that the nominees do to improve and conserve the natural resources in their care will benefit their ranches and the surrounding community for generations to come."
77 Ranch was nominated by the Texas Section, Society for Range Management and Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and was recognized as one of seven regional ESAP winners during the 2012 Cattle Industry Summer Conference.