An eastern Arizona ranch family that has invested heavily in water infrastructure and restoration of grazing land across 60,000 acres has won the 2017 Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP). The Jim O’Haco Cattle Company of Winslow received formal recognition Jan. 31 during the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s 2018 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Phoenix, according to a news release.
“Two things in life that I’ve always wanted to do, and I think I have mostly accomplished them—have quality cattle and help the environment,” Jim O’Haco says. “The job’s not done. We can always improve. We learn from our past and keep on improving.”
Among other investments, the ranch team installed the High Point Well over the course of a decade, connecting it to the entire operation through 42 miles of below-ground pipeline. The efforts have improved grazing land, benefited wildlife habitat and built wildlife numbers. The ranchers also have worked to curtail encroaching invasive juniper and other brush.
The operation collaborates with local entities as well as state and national ones such as the Arizona Game & Fish Department and the U.S. Forest Service.
“Caring for our natural resources is a shared ambition and point of pride among livestock producers,” says Craig Uden, NCBA president. “Jim is a true conservationist and partner of his community. His leadership is an example to us all.”
Award sponsors are Dow AgroSciences, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, McDonald’s and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They work in partnership with the National Cattlemen’s Foundation to advance environmental stewardship across the beef industry.
"The ESAP program is such a great example of the shared values that exist between McDonald’s and U.S. beef producers – values like dedication to family and community," says Townsend Bailey, director of U.S. supply chain sustainability. "In the case of the ESAP program, it’s about beef producers’ dedication to continuous improvement on their operations. And that is something McDonald’s is always focused on – in our company and our restaurants. The combined efforts of the men and women recognized in the program will ultimately result in a stronger beef industry. And that is something we all want."
Honorees such as O'Haco are worthy of recognition because they not only meet the status quo head on but also constantly look at their operations to determine what could be improved, what could be made better and then act on it, Bailey says.
"We believe beef production can play an important role in stewarding our natural resources and addressing many of society’s most pressing challenges," Bailey says. "We look forward to working with ranchers, the industry, the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and other stakeholders to advance practices that demonstrate the commitment and stewardship of ranchers and to help tell that story."