Couser Cattle Company, owned by Bill and Nancy Couser of Nevada, Iowa, was the national winner of the National Cattlemen's Foundation Environmental Stewardship Award.
Through the years, Couser has actively partnered with environmental agencies and universities to use his farm for a number of sustainability-related research and pilot projects. During the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's SummerConference, July 28-Aug. 1, 2010, seven cattle operations were recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to environmental stewardship. Today, Feb. 3, 2011, the top award winner from the seven finalists was announced.
"Farmers and ranchers are the very best stewards of the land, but through the partnerships Bill and his family have established, they have set a standard more of us should all strive to achieve. Couser and his family are a perfect example of how important it is to step outside of a comfort zone to make a positive difference in this industry," said Forrest Roberts, NCBA Chief Executive Officer. "Bill's partnership with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa State University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency resulted in innovative technologies that ultimately led to a very significant reduction in feedlot runoff. His efforts not only made his operation more environmentally sound but also led to improvements throughout the state of Iowa and in the entire country. Developing consensus with environmental groups and government officials isn't easy but it is necessary in order to achieve commonsense legislation and regulation."
Couser Cattle Company is a second and third generation multi-faceted operation that annually feeds and finishes 5,000 to 6,000 head of cattle and farms 5,000 acres, producing both corn seed and soybean seed. The business philosophy centers on working to ensure that both profit opportunities and environmental performance are present in cattle and farming operations.
NCBA's Environmental Stewardship Award Program, now in its twentieth 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; the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service; NCBA; and the National Cattlemen's Foundation. John Wallace, representative of Dow AgroSciences, said the award showcases cattle production's compatibility with a clean environment. Dow AgroSciences has sponsored the program for the last 11 years.
"These ranchers are outstanding," Wallace said. "They not only maintain the land, they improve it. That is true sustainability."
Couser, who was nominated by the Iowa Cattlemen's Association has won numerous awards for conservation and community service and was named as one of 10 People Who Matter by Time magazine in 2006. He has been a director of the Story County Cattlemen's Association for 33 years. Additionally, he is chair of ICA's business issues committee and a past vice chairman of NCBA's animal health committee.