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CAB and Ducks Unlimited gather millions for conservation


Certified Angus Beef and Ducks Unlimited are partnering to benefit the soil, wildlife, and to sequester carbon. The two organizations have rallied $500,000 and an additional $2.5 million in grants to launch the Working Grasslands Conservation Initiative over the coming 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.”

»Related: Tractor Supply dedicates $300K to conservation

The three-year initiative will provide financial and technical support for landowners in the Northern Great Plains. The Northern Great Plains are the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region, which hosts more than four million ducks in its grass biomes. Historically, up to 80 percent of North American waterfowl utilize the PPR to nest and rear their young, while the region is also incredibly important to beef production.

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.”

“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.”

Ranchers, as stewards, provide one of the best outlets to maintain grasslands. 

»Related: Op-ed: The importance of wildlife in ranching

“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.


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