The National Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA) is being presented tonight as part of the Canadian Cattle Association's Semi-Annual Meetings in British Columbia.

TESA recognizes producers who go above and beyond standard industry conservation practices, and set positive examples for other cattle producers and the general public.

Producers are nominated at a Provincial level with the winners moving on to the National Award with this year's nominees representing B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.

Saskatchewan's nominees are Gerald and Patti Anhorn of Windy Ridge Ranch at Elrose.

The couple ranch in the north end of the Missouri Coteau with 4000 acres of native grassland, and 4000 acres of marginal cropland that they seeded over to perennial cover.

As part of their management plan they defer grazing til September on some of their native pasture with a goal of providing at least a year long rest.

They also intensively manage the tame pastures, and have additional water sources through pipelines and remote watering systems to extend grazing  on the native grass.

The ranch is also home to wildlife and a number of species at risk making it an important area for environmental conservation.

The TESA award is presented to innovative cattle producers who have realized the value of implementing environmentally and economically sustainable cattle production on their operations.

Gerald Anhorn says they have had the privilege of putting learning into practice and seeing the benefits of what caring for and managing limited water resources, environmentally sensitive lands, native prairie and wildlife habitat can do. 

"The ability to see the increase in productivity, improved health of our land, while improving natural habitat and consistently improving our bottom line has been rewarding to say the least."

Gerald and Patti Anhorn of Elrose are The Environmental Stewardship Award winners for Saskatchewan, the national award presentation takes place tonight as part of the CCA's meetings. 

CCA Officer Tyler Fulton says the Semi-Annual meetings brings together producers and industry representatives adding there's a number of key issues on the agenda.

"It's a great opportunity for directors of the Canadian Cattle Association to be part of those concurrent meetings, and  meet in our regular committee meetings that include domestic ag, the environment, animal health and foreign trade. Those are all some of the committees that are doing critical work. "

He notes this is a good opportunity to have everybody in the same room and really figure out what the best route forward is on some of these critical issues.

Among the critical issues on the agenda is foreign trade and trade barriers. 

The CCA continues to have concerns around CETA - The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Europe, and a potential new agreement with the U-K and ensuring that they have reciprocity and trade there.

On the domestic agriculture front there's a number of key issues for the group and they're not all related to business risk management tools, but also looking at what kind of programs will be associated with ecological goods and services.

He notes he's also looking forward to hearing about a proposed pilot program for Alberta  focusing on a possible alternative to an insurance based risk management program for the beef industry, which will be different from the Western Livestock Insurance Program which is currently in place.