Arizona beef truly is raised by families, for families; and, Father’s Day provides the perfect opportunity to showcase a family of strong men who not only make major contributions to the beef community and the sport of rodeo but also portray the traits of an outstanding father. If you’ve heard of Marana Stockyards, you’ve probably heard of the Parsons.
Clay Parsons was born in 1961 in Carlsbad, New Mexico to Charlie Parsons and Cookie Paddock, and this is where their strong father-son relationship began. At three years of age, Clay began riding horses and helping on their small ranch (well, at least he thought he was helping, you know how helpful most three-year-olds are, much less when on horseback). He fell in love with the lifestyle and for the remainder of his childhood he continued working on family ranches in New Mexico, and later in Arizona.
At the age of five, Clay’s rodeo career began. His father, who rode broncs, introduced him to the rodeo world, and Clay tried everything! He learned how to rope in New Mexico, where he grew up around cowboys who quickly became his role models. Clay shared, “They had the greatest influence on me. They were real cowboys. I did not want to just be a rodeo cowboy, I wanted to ranch AND rodeo.”
Throughout his life, Clay had a strong love for cattle. Whenever he was driving around with his father or anyone else, he was always looking over the fence line at cows, studying them and calling out the breeds. “My room was full of pictures of cows. Not rodeo champions, but cows. I just loved cows,” recalled Clay. He was overjoyed when, at seven years old, his father bought a small ranch in Oracle, AZ. Money was sparse at the time so they would buy roping heifers then later turn them out on the ranch, building a small herd. Clay remembers when their random assortment of roping heifers finally reached maturity and was ready for a bull: “Dad and I went to Wentz Livestock Auction in Tucson, and we bought a bull.”
Clay would walk home from school, either on foot or by horseback, as often his horse was tied up outside the school waiting, and then go check all the cows. “I checked those cows every day except on the weekends when I was rodeoing,” explained Clay. This is where the story hits his favorite memory with his father: “I was nine-years-old and two-thirds of those cows had calved. We had family and friends at our place to help gather the herd and brand. As we were bringing in the herd, I said ‘Dad, we’re missing three.’ Dad said not to worry about them. We would take care of them later. As soon as he went over the ridge, I went back for them.” Clay remembers everyone wondering where he had disappeared to with the answer to the question arising as he came up over the ridge with the three missing pairs. He was scolded at first but then brought to the side where he heard the words he’ll never forget, “Son, good job. You’re gonna be a cowman.”
Although there were years when Clay and Charlie did not have a ranch of their own, the Parsons continued to be a strong father/son name in the cattle world. Clay married the beautiful love of his life, Karen, at eighteen, who quickly jumped right into the lifestyle. Later, there was no ranch for Clay to run and he worked for his father’s business, Parsons Steel Builders. He hated it, and went out on the road to rodeo, with a dream of making it to the National Finals Rodeo. He recalls being in Livermore, California at a rodeo where he sat in the top fifteen for calf roping and was almost there for team roping. His dad called Clay asking him if he wanted to lease and run a ranch and Clay’s response was a simple, “I’ll be there in 14 hours.”
Today, the love for cattle and ranching stays strong in the Parsons family. They built Marana Stockyards after many years of learning and hard work, and still, raise cattle on a ranch near Picacho Peak. If you’re ever around Marana, or at a big rodeo, you’ll most likely see Clay or maybe his father Charlie. If you’re out on their ranch during branding season, you’ll see his brothers Joe and Cutter along with other members of the Parsons family. Maybe at the stockyard you’ll find one of Clay and Karen’s lovely daughters (who all showed cattle as youth). Carly, who helps during the cattle sale, or his son, Clay Buck, who keeps the place running. If you’re lucky, you’ll even catch a glance of Clay’s grandson Cooper, who sometimes helps call out pen numbers to the riders out back putting the sold cattle back in the correct pens (don’t worry buyers, Carly makes sure the pen backers know where to put your cattle).
We start with a father like Charlie, who had a strong influence on his son’s self-sufficiency and taught him to not only do what he loved but also to do it successfully. Next, we move to a father like Clay, who never runs out of words to express his pride and love for his hard-working son, a genuine man who everyone loves and respects, or his beautiful daughters. Finally, we end with a little grandson, Cooper, who never ceases to bring a smile to Clay’s face and attributes to why the Parsons men are so dedicated. Clay says, “I see Cooper liking the same things we like and I want the next generation to get to grow up the way we did.” These men exemplify what it means to be a father. Clay kindly advised, “There are some things you won’t understand until you have a grandson.” Well, Clay, there are some things the world only understands when they look at generations of amazing ranchin’ and rodeoin’ fathers like the Parsons.
Father’s Day is fast-approaching, and what better way to appreciate the role of a father than by preparing him a hearty, home-cooked beef dinner. While it does not have to be Father’s Day, nor do you have to be a father to eat beef, a day like this calls for special attention to this beloved red meat. We asked some local ranch dads what their favorite beef meals are as they should know how to best prepare a hearty, tasty beef meal after spending all day out on the range!
“A thick and juicy RIBEYE,” stated Dan Bell who picked the cream of the crop while many others attested to its supremacy as their favorite meal. “Do you need any time to think?” “Nope! Ribeye on mesquite, with salt and pepper. Garlic salt” was the rapid reply of Bas Aja, Executive Vice President of the Arizona Cattle Feeders’ Association and a rancher in Southwestern Maricopa County. Dean Fish agreed, also specifying over mesquite. Maybe we need to check this one out in the office!
Of course, all beef is great and some fathers had a little harder of a time settling on one beef dinner. Jim Webb of the Scottsdale, AZ answered, “Anything that comes with beef is good. If I had to pick one, it would be a steak dinner. Steak with potatoes. No vegetables…well, maybe asparagus.” Out on the V Bar V Ranch in Rimrock, AZ, Bopper Cannon gave a vote to the rib steak. His son, Keith Cannon, who is also a dad, was raised right with good beef cooking and wasn’t even willing to specify a cut, “Anything!”
Wes Kerr from the Kerr Dairy in Buckeye, AZ followed suit in loving all cuts of beef, but managed to narrow it down while proving to be a fan of his mother’s cooking by saying, “Ooooh I like it all!! Hmmmmm, well my mom makes THE BEST meatloaf.” And in case you’re reading this Wes, we’re expecting an invite over for dinner to prove this true!
Some other popular favorites include grilled tri-tip, volunteered by Patrick Bray, rancher from Goodyear, AZ and a vote for grilled brisket from Joe King of Green Valley, AZ, who also informed us, “We are actually having that for our dinner on Sunday [Father’s Day]”.
With ground beef, steaks, ribs, roasts, and more, there are endless combinations for delicious and nutritious beef meals that fit you and your family. Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner can help you plan your next meal. The Interactive Butcher Counter allows you to explore the different meat cuts while providing information on how to cook those cuts, the nutrition facts, and some tasty recipes.
Every dad enjoys a delicious home cooked meal, and what better dinner foundation than beef, packed with powerful protein and 10 essential nutrients? After reading some favorites from fathers out in the beef community, we hope you gain some inspiration and enjoy beef as much as they do! From Arizona Beef to all the fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day!
Another successful week is coming to a close for the Summer Ag Institute. Every year, the University of Arizona Maricopa County Extension Office, along with other representative organizations including the Arizona Beef Council, plan a weeklong agriculture tour for kindergarten to high school level teachers from all over Arizona. Teachers fill out applications, and thirty are selected each year as participants of the tour to learn about the Arizona agriculture community surrounding them. This knowledge is then passed on to students within their classrooms.
This year, teachers experienced a variety of agriculture community aspects including the Arabian horse wonder known as Los Cedros USA, the University of Arizona Maricopa Agriculture Center and its research, various crop farms, and livestock ranches. They ended the week by splitting into small groups and spending a few hours enjoying a genuine, hands-on experience of everyday farm life with local farm families, followed by an intensive workshop on incorporating what they have learned about agriculture into their curriculum.W Dart Ranch where they learned about raising cattle and how ranching intertwines with the economy and environment. Andy Groseta explained to teachers, “We are the only nation on the face of the earth where you can go to any store on a Monday and ask for any food you want in any quantity and get it by Friday. The only thing stopping you is your pocketbook. We are very efficient at what we do, and that was not an overnight thing; it started in 1776.” As he discussed ranch activities, his fifth-generation family ranch tradition, and his love for the land and his cattle, teachers gained insight on this piece of the beef community. Tracey Dodrill from Cocopah Middle School told us this stop was her favorite, “I loved meeting the Groseta family and learning that ranchers are people just like me. I want to be adopted into their family!” The ranch was a great transition into a delicious meal at Roux 66 and a discussion with the Diablo Trust which further highlighted the beef community’s dedication as environmentalists to raise healthy beef while taking proper care of livestock and the environment while involving consumers. Perkinsville Meat Processing, followed by Thursday’s tour of Heiden Land & Cattle and Triple G Dairy. At Heiden Land & Cattle, Paul Heiden took the teachers on the next step in the beef raising journey by giving a tour of his feedlot. He explained how they raised Holstein steers with a carefully calculated diet, and answered questions about cattle feed, the beef product, and animal welfare practices including Beef Quality Assurance procedures. “We care a lot about our cattle and what they are eating, and consult a nutritionist frequently. We don’t do what we do just for regulation; we do it for the wellness of our cattle,” Paul shared.
After stopping at the Triple G Dairy, teachers were able to add learning the differences between the Holstein and Jersey breeds, seeing the stages of each cow’s life from calf to milking cow, and witnessing firsthand the dairy’s state of the art technology including a milking carousel, to their list of experiences. One teacher, Suze Manci, commented: “I now understand why producers do what they do. They have a passion for feeding you, and they have to be able to do that.”
Members of the beef community were given the opportunity to showcase their family business, explaining how they raise their animals and add to their unique piece of beef’s gate to plate journey while answering teachers’ questions.
Overall, the 2017 Summer Agriculture Institute allowed teachers to connect again, or for the first time, with the true source of their food, fiber, and fuel. Furthermore, the teachers gained skills on how to incorporate these concepts into their K-12 classrooms so that future generations even further removed from agriculture still understand the gate to plate journey and how everyone is touched by agriculture every day.
“I’m finding a lot of new ways to incorporate what I’ve learned about agriculture into my 7th-grade science unit.”
“I had a meat science minor in college, and it’s great to be able to go back to feedlots and places I have been before.”
“I teach middle school math and have started an agriculture elective in the afternoon to try and start an FFA program early on. It’s the nature of Duncan [Arizona], and I want to go back to that.”
These are just a few of the endless quotes from excited, and, at the end of the week, very tired teachers who enjoyed this year’s agriculture institute, and we are thankful to be involved another year helping ensure the connection between the agriculture community in the field to those in grocery stores and around the table.
Having the opportunity to serve as the Arizona Junior Beef Ambassador has been an absolute thrill and privilege! I really do heart beef!! My family ranched in southern Arizona in a small settlement called Klondyke when Arizona was still a territory. This is in the Aravaipa Canyon near the Graham Mountains, which is about an hour outside of Safford. My great grandpa Neuel Weathersby started the family tradition of raising polled Herefords. Though my grandparents sold the 7K Bar Ranch, they moved north and ran cattle on other ranches throughout the state. I am so thankful to have been raised understanding the legacy of these amazing cattlemen as well as the example of my parents who are so very passionate about American agriculture. It is from them that I get my love for Herefords and passion for the beef industry as a whole. I have enjoyed carrying on their legacy by raising cattle of my own and being a member of the Arizona Cowpunchers Reunion Rodeo Association. I recently bred my first heifer this year, and I am so excited to start my own herd with her offspring as well as my younger cattle.
My family has been heavily involved in FFA for years. My dad, aunt, and uncle have served as state officers. My dad also was an ag teacher when I was little, and my friends and family members have grown because of the amazing leadership skills acquired through being an FFA member. I wanted to have this opportunity so badly! However, I have attended a small charter school, that I love, since fifth grade, but it did not have an FFA program. Thanks to my incredible parents and headmaster, we were able to get a chapter chartered! Being a member of Trivium FFA has been such an incredible blessing, not only for me but also for those in my chapter. Many people today are so far removed from where their food comes from and, even more so, from the incredible people who raise and grow it. Being a member of FFA has been yet another venue for me to share truths about the industry and community that I am so passionate about and proud to be a part of. I know that the skills and experiences I gain through the FFA are invaluable – from public speaking to budgeting, and from leadership skills to learning how to work as a team. I know that I will often turn back to these skills throughout my life to help me, and I will look back fondly at all the memories made with members of my chapter and the Arizona FFA Association.
I am elated to be able to attend my very first State Leadership Conference as an FFA member this week. Though I have had the privilege of attending a few sessions before, the feeling of sitting amongst the “sea of blue jackets” is indescribable. It has been incredible to be a part of something so much bigger than myself. At the opening session of the conference, Trivium FFA will be recognized as a newly chartered chapter, and it will symbolize the culmination of hard work and perseverance of so many people. How grateful I am for them. Because of their efforts, the members of Trivium FFA, as well as myself, can have a wealth of true knowledge and countless opportunities to learn and grow.
Happy State Leadership Conference week to all! I hope it is filled with tons of laughs and memories made! May your herds be healthy and let’s all pray for rain!
Arizona Jr. Beef Ambassador
The biggest weekend for grilling is here and we want to make sure you are prepared to impress your friends and family! We’ve compiled resources for you which include recipes, grilling tips, and more. Basically, just lots of reasons to fire up the grill this weekend and cook a delicious beefy meal!
The Beef Checkoff Releases its Most Coveted Recipies and New DIY Burger Bar Video to Make Summer Grilling and Entertaining Even Tastier
If you’re making burgers you’ll want to make sure and check out this link. A video, lots of ideas, and delicious results guaranteed.
Tumeric Rubbed Reverse Seared New York Strip with Bok Choy
Girl Carnivore knows her beef. If you want an amazing eating experience, you’ll want to check her out.
The 100 Best Burgers in America, Ranked by Our National Burger Critic
So not everyone wants to cook out this weekend and that’s okay! This link will give you the best 100 burgers to try out around the country. Here’s an idea. Make this list into a road trip! Find the best burgers closest to you, grab your best pal and hit the road.
3 Reasons to Grill Steak This Weekend
Do you really need more reasons? Well, if you do check out this gal. Flavor, health, and budget all sound like good reasons to us.
Arizona Culinary Institute students from the classes of Basic Culinary Skills, Meat Fabrication, and Baking filtered into a classroom of a different kind on an unseasonably chilly morning in May, ready for a tour of Arizona beef, from gate to plate. The room rang of excitement, anticipation, and sleepiness, as we did get started at 7:30 am. The real diversity and personalities of the classes began to emerge with introductions. The students were asked to tell us their name and their first memory of cooking. The future chef’s answers ranged from cookies to tamales, but there was a common theme: cooking with family. Lauren Scheller, Arizona Beef Council assistant executive director, made a connection with the group by saying, “Just like you all are passionate about cooking and feeding people delicious food, so also are Arizona ranchers passionate about raising quality and delicious beef for you to cook and serve to your restaurant guests.”
JBS, USA in Tolleson, Arizona was the first stop on the agenda. JBS continues to be a reliable partner in educating influencers on how beef is processed and this year was no different. Bill Munns, director of marketing & product management, graciously set up the tour and James Stell, operations manager, hosted an excellent tour of the large plant. Honestly, the results of this year’s tour weren’t much different from past year’s, which was also positive. The students went home with an understating that quality animal care is a priority all the way through the lifecycle of a beef animal and continues until that animal is harvested. The Ah-Ha moments are always fun to hear as most often people are amazed at the lack of “gross” they had envisioned and how the entire process is kept clean and safe.
A delicious steak lunch by Bruce Brown Catering at the Buckeye Elks Lodge with a brief overview of the beef lifecycle followed the plant tour. The morning’s excitement had not yet dissipated, and the room only grew quite when the New York strip carving station was assembled. The anticipation was palatable. A brief presentation by the Arizona Beef Council’s Lauren Scheller and Tiffany Selchow covered the beef lifecycle with tips on decoding the many labels on beef packages and the nutrition beef offers us.
The beautiful outdoors greeted us as we stepped off the bus at Heiden Land and Cattle for a tour of the Heiden family’s feed yard. The seventy-six-degree weather made for a perfect backdrop as the students walked to the feed mill which steams and flakes corn, the bins of different grains and hay while learning how all these ingredients were mixed to provide the cattle a complete and balanced diet. Paul Heiden guided the tour to the cattle pens for more learnings the daily cattle care. This was followed by a detailed look at the working facilities which are used to tag, treat, and care for animals when they are first entering the feed yard or if an illness arises, which isn’t too common. Paul shared, “The care of our animals and the land we use is our top priority, and we are always excited to show off our feed yard to future chefs!”
Last chance for photos with the steers was given and then it was back on the bus to leave rural Buckeye and head back to the center of the 6th largest city in the United States. These culinary students left the Arizona Beef Council Gate to Plate tour armed with first-hand information straight from the feed yard owner and packing plant manager’s mouths. Honestly, we don’t think there is a better kind.
ABC board chairman Wes Kerr emphasized, “The Arizona Beef Council places immense value on the relationships the Gate to Plate Tours provide to cooking and nutrition influencers, such as the students at the Arizona Culinary Institute. We need to continue to be their first reference when faced with questions about how beef is raised or how it fits on a menu.” This tour is made possible by the Federation Initiative Fund, supported by beef councils in states where there are more cattle than people, and the Arizona Beef Council.
To say a mother is an especially important person is a severe understatement. She sacrifices all she has, social life, finances, hobbies, and more, to ensure her children are properly cared for and loved beyond measure. Mothers are also given the job of disciplinarian which encompasses more than just laying down the law, but also provides her children with a structure and moral compass pointing in the right direction for use later in life. She also worries about things she can’t change or prevent, but never the less, she worries. She worries about the dangers of the world and constantly thinks how to can ensure those risks never fall upon her children.
Each year, we celebrate our Mothers on only one day. During this day of celebration, we try to show our moms how much we care, but it’s a challenge to shove all that gratitude in one day. From flowers to jewelry, there are many options for mom, but we are partial to one idea. And that is a lovely brunch, cooked with love, and served to her in bed. She gets up every morning to ensure everyone is ready to go for their busy days, it’s mom’s turn to take a load off and enjoy some pampering.
Arizona Beef Council: Where you are located? I live in Stanfield (in between Casa Grande and Maricopa) but my husband and I partner on a desert ranch south of Buckeye and I sell beef from my parent’s ranch in the Verde Valley.
What segment of the beef community are you involved in? Cow-calf/meat sales/mom/association staff.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and about your ranch.
Anna Aja: I grew up the 4th generation on my family’s ranch in Cottonwood. I truly believe it was the best way to grow up. I am thankful for the independence it instilled in me and for the responsibility I was given in raising and caring for livestock. I was active in 4-H and FFA and served as the State FFA President my freshman year of college. I attended the University of Arizona and received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Economics. My husband and I actually met when we were 15 at an Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association convention but we re-met our freshman year and have been together ever since. We now have three kiddos, Basilio (5), Andy Marie (3) and Perry Craig (1). A year ago, I started selling beef directly to the consumer from our family’s ranches. I’ve always wanted to do it and since I’m located near such a large metro area I thought I would give it a shot. Our beef company is called 9F Cattle Co. 9F is the brand my husband’s grandmother gifted us after we got married and is what we use to identify our cattle. It was her father’s and she told us that the 9F stood for the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” –Galatians 5:22-23
How does the technology you use now differ from the technology that was passed down to you or that generations passed may have used on this ranch?
In regards to my direct sales, with today’s technology world, launching my beef sales business was completely different from when my grandpa and his dad would wagon their meat and produce from Middle Verde up to the mining town of Jerome. First I got my website set up and decided to utilize an order form that took customer information but I would take payment upon delivery. Once that was complete I started my Facebook page and began to utilize word of mouth referrals and purchase advertising on social media that hit my desired target audience. I still do plenty of handshake deals which is gratifying to be able to work with people who are true to their word.
What are some common misconceptions that you think people may have about the beef you raise and sell?
When I sell beef to a consumer I really enjoy that personal connection. And I’m thrilled when they have questions about our ranch or cattle. I do find my customers are often surprised that the majority of our cattle don’t get sold directly but in fact go through the conventional method and end up in a Fry’s or Safeway somewhere. I always see a light bulb go off when they realize that the beef that is found in their local market was raised with care and respect by a family just like mine. I do take pride in the beef we sell and do consider it to be premium as it is dry-aged 21 days, custom cut for my customers and delivered to their doorstep.
What is the most important thing that you want people to know about beef?
I’m often faced with someone who is nervous to purchase a lot of beef because they mention an inaccurate health claim. I want people to know that beef is part of a heart-healthy diet, that you can eat well and enjoy what you’re eating.
What is the most important piece of information that you want people to know about you and your family’s beef?
We take a tremendous amount of pride in doing a job well. We care about our animals’ quality of life and respect them for the protein they provide us. We care about the environment and being sustainable – we want to pass on our ranches to future generations. And finally, that the beef we raise and sell to them and their family is the same beef we feed our family.
If you could describe in one word the life of a rancher, what would it be?
Lastly and of course most importantly, what is your favorite cut of beef and how do you like to prepare it?
I’m a ribeye girl through and through and I want it grilled over charcoal or mesquite by my husband. But really, I love brisket, tri-tip, flat iron, short ribs and more. One of my all-time favorite recipes is this one by Anne Burrell – I’m actually making these on Sunday!
Arizona Team Beef member Cami Schlappy is a mom, rancher, equestrienne, and fifth generation Arizonan. Meet Cami:
Arizona Beef: What are your favorite ways to live a healthy, active lifestyle?
Cami: Having a toddler at home means I rarely sit down. My daughter, Celine, and I are always on the move. We are outside a lot to explore nature, spend time with our animals, and enjoy the country life.
My way of exercising is riding my horses. Keeping them in shape requires riding them at a walk, trot, and lope to keep their muscles toned. In doing so, I’m toning my muscles and building my endurance and fitness level. This is really great for my core and postural muscles and it really works out my legs. I’ve gone back to team roping with my dad, Foster Cheatham. This month I started back barrel racing. I enjoy competing and it helps motivate me to continue my fitness journey. If I’m in better condition, I can ride at a higher level and my horses will perform better. More importantly, if I’m healthier, I can spend more quality time with my family and be a better example for my daughter.
How does beef help fuel your active lifestyle?
Lean cuts of beef, using marinades, slow cooking methods like crockpots, and soups have really helped me shed excess weight. I can still eat the beef I enjoy while loading up on vegetables by eating meals like beef and broccoli, fajitas, albondigas (meatball and veggie soup), loaded beef stew, and steak strips over salad. The beef gives me energy and the essential nutrients, including protein, I need to build muscles.
Did Team Beef inspire you to get active/healthy again?
Thanks to Arizona Team Beef and Million Mile Month a year ago April, I lost all my pregnancy weight and then some. I’m down six pant sizes and have more energy than before. The April 2016 Million Mile Month and Team Beef motivated me to get moving and to log my exercise. That led me to buy a FitBit and continuing to exercise after the Million Mile Month promotion was over. I started riding my horses more and returned to team roping and barrel racing. I now try and ride at least five days a week and be active every day. My goal is to increase my muscle and physical fitness level and continue to shed excess weight. I use portion control and lean meats to maintain my diet.
What is your tie to the Arizona beef community?
My maiden name is Cheatham and my family helped settle the Phoenix area beginning in 1919. We had a five-generation dairy on 51st Avenue and Baseline in Laveen. We milked a registered herd of Holstein cows and grew alfalfa, cotton, and some produce. My family has always been active in the agricultural community: United Dairymen of Arizona, Salt River Project, 4-H, Arizona State Cowbelles, Project CENTRL, Arizona National Livestock Show, Arizona State Fair, and Maricopa County Fair, to name a few.
I attended the University of Arizona majoring in Animal Science. My Master’s degree focused on the effect of anabolic implants on the live performance, carcass characteristics, and gene expression in long-fed Holstein steers.
Currently, I reside in Santa Cruz county and am active in my local and state Cowbelle organizations. I help in outreach and educational events such as the yearly Ranch and Rodeo Day at our local elementary school, serving steaks to returning troops stationed at Fort Huachuca, getting beef and ranching information out to schools, and volunteering at local events. I enjoy educating the public about the values and benefits of ranching and beef.
My favorite beef meal or cut of beef?
Prime Rib! Prime Rib has been a lifelong favorite. I make it for holidays and special occasions. Other beef favorites? There are so many! A few of my other favorites are grilled rib steaks, my dad’s beef tacos, albondigas (Mexican meatball soup), biscuits and gravy, and slow cooked ribs.
Earth Day is an everyday thought for Arizona’s beef farmers and ranchers. This lists only includes 28 ways Arizona ranchers care for the environment, but we promise there are many other ways. Caring for the land, their cattle, and you, the consumer, are the most important priorities for Arizona cattlemen and women.
- Maintain and introduce habitats as homes for numerous endangered and threatened species including Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Chiricahua Leopard Frog, and the Mexican Gray Wolf.
- Utilize rotational grazing in which cattle are moved to different pastures every few days to prevent overgrazing.
- Maintain proper nutrients in soil by regularly analyzing soil samples. This also helps to determine if nutritional supplements are needed to help meet cattle’s nutritional needs.
- Implement conservation tillage so that soil can be conserved and available moisture used more efficiently.
- Manage streams and sensitive wetlands to create a buffer that helps prevent bank erosion, helps control runoff and improves fish habitat.
- Utilize beef production practices and tools to raise more beef with fewer natural resources.
- Arizona mines use cattle to slow water runoff on tailings slopes by feeding oat hay and allowing cattle to graze down the slope while depositing organic matter and encouraging trails which help to reduce quick moving water.
- Utilize biofuel on cattle operations. The grain by-product of ethanol production, distillers grains, are fed to cattle as a nutritious source of energy.
- Fertilize fields with manure from cattle feeding operations to reduce fuel needed to manufacturer synthetic fertilizer.
- Protect open spaces through programs like conservation easements, to ensure ranchlands and wildlife habitats are protected from development for perpetuity.
- Utilize solar power to harness Arizona’s plentiful sun to power ranches including electric water pumps to provide water for cattle and wildlife.
- Create retention ponds to protect waterways from excessive runoff and to contain rain water for cattle and wildlife to drink.
- Provide habitat for ground nesting birds including the Bobwhite and Gambel’s Quail.
- Operate methane digesters, which capture methane from manure decomposition and utilize it to generate electricity for the farm.
- Participate in university research projects that aim to improve agricultural environmental practices.
- Compost cattle manure into fertilizer products that can be used by golf courses, athletic fields, gardens, etc.
- Practice Coordinated Resource Management (CRM) in partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve grasslands, soil, and wildlife habitat.
- Plan soil nutrient management systems to control nutrient runoff and to minimize the need for additional nutrients to grow crops.
- Monitor and document effective practices and regularly solicit input from University of Arizona Extension Agents to improve resource management. Ranchers also work with the university extension programs to receive a continued education.
- Control invasive weeds and reduce plant fuel build-up on grazing land so it doesn’t turn into hot and dangerous fires.
- Install irrigation systems that efficiently utilize limited water resources.
- Facilitate fish passage at irrigation diversions so migrating fish can continue to spawn in creeks.
- Install fish screens in ditches so that fish do not get trapped.
- Partner with state, local and national environmental agencies to monitor land, water, and wildlife, and make improvements.
- Hold up water on ranchlands for extended periods of time in order to replenish underground aquifers and filter out nutrients and particulate matter.
- Improve plant density, work to eradicate invasive plant species and encourage native forages, promoting healthier rangelands, allowing cattle to graze and consume forages that convert to healthy, nutritious beef.
- Feed cattle crops that are grown locally to reduce fuel needed for transportation.
- Use windmills to harvest wind energy into usable mechanical power.
This is a short list compared to what is done on ranches to ensure the land is cared for properly. Work is also done to recognize others in the beef community who have made long-standing contributions to the preservation of the country’s natural resources through the Environmental Stewardship Award.