The Society of Range Management (SRM) recently awarded the Pekisko Group the Outstanding Achievement Award in Land Stewardship at a ceremony of the SRM 66th Annual Meeting in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA. The SRM is a highly respected organization promoting the protection and health of rangelands. It has members from approximately 70 countries worldwide.
Read the Press Release on this award.
The Pekisko Group is an association of families bound together by the common vision of a healthy and prosperous future for southern Alberta. They see themselves as stewards of the land, and the land they steward is a special place. Many of the member ranches have been in the same family for multiple generations and for more than 100 years. The landscape is a mosaic of private and public land held under grazing lease. The land generates clean water, air, biodiversity and economic benefit for Albertans and will do so indefinitely if the right choices are made now.
The Southern Foothills Community Stewardship Initiative, commonly known as the Southern Foothills Initiative (SFI) has been holding public forums and inviting people to discuss their vision for the landscape. It is a critically important process as the Alberta Government moves forward with the Land Use Framework process.
Go to the SFI pages to read more. And we encourage all people to attend the meetings and participate. It is your land, your landscape, your community. Be a part of it!
Statistics Canada reports that the Canadian cattle herd fell by 4.9% to 14.0 million and has been in a steady decline since its peak of 16.9 million in 2005.
As of July 1, 99,026 farms reported beef or dairy cattle, down 3.5% from the same date in 2009.
During this period, the Canadian dairy herd fell 1.3%, while the total beef herd declined 5.5%. Indications are that the beef herd is not rebuilding as farmers reported a 5.1% decline in the total number of beef cows and a 2.3% drop in replacement heifers. The total number of dairy cows (-0.1%) and replacement dairy heifers (-1.6%) also declined compared with 2009.
Full story at Statistics Canada.
If you are steering away from red meat due to the negative press on saturated fats, you may be happy to hear that a very powerful fatty acid primarily found in beef and dairy products has been linked to long-term weight management and health. This potent nutrient is called conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, and the best possible sources of CLA are grass-fed beef and raw dairy products that come from grass-fed cattle.
Many ranchers are responding to the call by U.S. consumers by shifting from traditional, factory-farmed, grain-fed methods of raising cattle to a free-range, all-grass diet. Even the USDA is waking up to the consumer demand for grass-fed products. Their June 2010 publication of Livestock, Poultry, and Dairy Outlook indicates that grass-fed beef represents 3 percent of the total U.S. beef production and has been growing about 20 percent for several years.
Read more about the many health benefits of grass-fed beef products at this health and wellness site.
Statistics Canada: Farm sector equity up in 2009
While farm sector equity increased in 2009 it was due to an increase in farm real estate value. This increase masked a decrease in current asset value. The actual StatsCan analysis is below. You can get the entire story at: Farm Equity 2009
Equity in Canada’s farm sector increased 2.0% to $272.9 billion from 2008 to 2009 as a gain in assets more than offset a rise in liabilities. Equity rose in most provinces, with increases ranging from 0.5% in Nova Scotia to 4.2% in Manitoba. Decreases in equity occurred in Newfoundland and Labrador (-3.0%), Prince Edward Island (-6.3%) and British Columbia (-2.0%). The value of farm assets increased 2.4% to $330.4 billion in 2009, while the level of farm liabilities reached $57.5 billion, up 4.5% from 2008 levels. Assets increased in every province except for Prince Edward Island (-1.6%) and British Columbia (-1.7%) in 2009. Liabilities increased in each province save for B.C. (-0.3%). The value of farm real estate, which accounted for 68.0% of the total farm assets in 2009, rose 4.5% to $224.6 billion. This increase accounted for nearly all of the growth in total farm assets in 2009, more than offsetting the decline in current assets.
Current liabilities increased 5.2% over 2008 levels, while long-term liabilities were up 4.3%. The debt-to-asset ratio was 17.4% in 2009, up from 17.1% 2008. This ratio, which measures the dependence of farm business on debt, was at its highest level in 5 years.
The ratio of current assets to current liabilities decreased from 2.68 in 2008 to 2.29 in 2009. This suggests a decline in the ability of agricultural operators to pay short-term debts. The interest coverage ratio declined to 2.84 in 2009, after reaching a record high of 3.88 in 2008. This indicates a decline in the ability of agricultural operators to cover interest charges with the net income they generate before interest and taxes.
Return on equity dropped to 1.6% in 2009, down from 3.3% in 2008. The five-year average of this ratio was 1.9% (2005 to 2009).
Today the ERCB announced its decision on the sour gas Sullivan Pipeline and additional gas wells. You can read the decision in the Sullivan section – read it and weep as they say in the movies. One would have at least hoped that the conditions would be stringent to protect this critical watershed but a reasonable impression ot them could be characterized as underwhelming.
We are not sure how you put Grizzly bears on the endangered list and then approve shortly thereafter the cutting of a pipeline and road through the middle of some of their best habitat. And water? Well, protecting an asset like a watershed doesn’t add much to the GDP does it? There is a subtle difference between the terms “open for business” and “up for sale” but Alberta is not particularly well known for subtlety recently.
You can read the Pekisko Group Press Release.
Recent devastating spring storms in southern Alberta in late April and early May have taken a serious toll on the ranching industry in the Cardston area. Many livestock, especially young calves, have been lost due to the intensity and frequency of the storms. Many calves developed pneumonia and need to be treated despite the recent return of warm weather.
County officials are telling the provincial and federal governments they need to step in with immediate aid to badly affected ranchers. You can read more stories by Jamie Komarnicki of the Calgary Herald and from Global TV.
As of this day the decision by the ERCB on the Sullivan pipeline application has still not been rendered. Will it be a Legend of the Fall or a Legend of the Rise of common sense. The local people and their supporters wait with considerable anxiety. The implications of cutting a pipeline and associated infrastructure through the pristine headwaters is significant. Of course, the new owners of the leases, Suncor, has been shopping them around. Late breaking news as it is available!
The South Saskatchewan RAC (SSRAC) has been meeting to discuss what planning recommendations they will present to the Land Use Secretariat. The chair of the RAC is now Colin Jeffares plus there are 17 other members. You can view the SSRAC member list.
A number of organizations have put forward well thought-out submissions to the SSRAC. There will be further public consultation during the process by the SSRAC and people should be informed so they can better participate. If you wish to learn more, Click here to read some of the submissions.
A story in Time Magazine from January 25, 2010 explains why cows fed solely on grass can be good for the planet. Perhaps this explains why over the centuries millions upon millions of grass-eating animals around the world didn’t cause catastrophic climate change. Could the IPCC be wrong?
Read the Time article here.