About 90 years ago, Anderson Farms and Cattle Co. began as an 80-acre operation.
Horses provided most of the labor that heavy machinery now supplies. Although it began on a small parcel of land, its owners knew that one thing was certain: If they took care of the land, the land would be there for them and their children.
Continuing the family tradition of incorporating environmental stewardship into the family agriculture business led to James Anderson becoming the 1999 National Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) winner. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association announced Anderson as the winner during a reception, at the annual cattle industry convention. Anderson was nominated by the Colorado Livestock Association.
"Anderson Farms is a key example of how cattlemen and women can increase their bottom lines, while also remaining mindful of the environment-the cattle industry's greatest resource," said NCBA President George Hall, a livestock market operator, from Oklahoma City, OK. "This family farm, in more ways than one, has demonstrated the hard work that cattle producers do to conserve the environment, so it remains productive for the future."
For nine years, ESAP has recognized cattle producers whose environmental stewardship practices are inventive, cost-effective and contribute to environmental conservation. Dow AgroSciences has sponsored the award for the last two years. A diverse selection committee, which included officials from the following, chooses the winners: Bureau of Land Management, Natural Resource Conservation-U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, American Farmland Trust, Extension Services, The Nature Conservancy and two agriculture professors.
The Anderson Farm and Cattle Co. now spans 1,000 acres, in Longmont, CO. About 750 acres of the farm are irrigated cropland. The heart of the farm is a cattle-feeding operation, which has a one-time capacity of 1,400 head. Anderson, a third-generation rancher and owner of Anderson Farms and Cattle Co., still adheres to the philosophy of his grandfather, who founded the farm, and he continues the family tradition of making land stewardship an integral part of his cattle business.
Among Anderson Farms' top priorities are the effective management of manure generated from the feedlot. The farm conducts soil tests to monitor nutrient buildup. Proper storage and application of manure has helped to prevent water contamination.
Water conservation is essential to a productive business, in Longmont, where the average annual rainfall is about 13 inches. Anderson Farms constructed three ponds to collect runoff and tail-water, creating wildlife habitat for multiple species of waterfowl, including Canadian geese and pelicans. Anderson also participated in a water quality study of the St. Vrain River. Results of the study showed water quality leaving the farm had fewer salts, nitrates and other solids than water in the river.
"For almost 90 years, Anderson Family Farms has made creating a balance between farming and conservation part of our business," Anderson said.
Anderson Farms is along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. Because of the land's topography, Anderson has taken steps such as planting hundreds of trees to prevent soil erosion during the rainy season or during times of irrigation. Planting the trees has had the added bonus of creating habitat for wildlife, such as deer, rabbits, eagles, hawks, pheasants and other animals. Some of the farm, including pasture, river frontage and lakeshore areas, are out of production and used solely to protect wildlife and wetlands.
For 20 years, the Anderson family has been developing methods and modifying equipment, in an effort to reach a 100% conservation tillage program. This has resulted in great savings, in fuel, labor and machinery costs.
"Who better to determine the environment's needs than the producers who are out there everyday working on the land," Hall said. "Anderson Farms serves as an example of just how much this industry depends on the environment, and it demonstrates the lengths to which producers go to protect it."
And no doubt, profitability and environmental protection do go hand in hand. In 1993, Anderson Farms and Cattle Co. was named the Cattle Businessman of the Year, by the National Cattlemen's Foundation. The prestigious Cattle Businessman of the Year award, sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., is presented each year to a cattleman who demonstrates an innovative, successful approach to the business of cattle production. Anderson also is a former president of the Colorado Cattle Feeders Association, the predecessor organization to the Colorado Livestock Association.