The Frank and Sims Price Ranch, Sterling City, Texas, was named the national winner of the National Cattlemen’s Foundation Environmental Stewardship Award Program.
The award, presented during the 2014 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show in Nashville, recognizes this father-son partnership that represents the fourth and fifth generations of the Price family to operate the ranch. The ranch, which is located in West Texas, has operated for the past two years under exceptional drought conditions. However, because of the family’s flexibility and carefully managed livestock grazing plan the ranch remains a shining example of excellent stewardship.
Frank and Sims Price have worked closely with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service to implement a carefully-organized grazing plan which maximizes the work time of the four members of the ranch staff more efficiently, allowing the family to eliminate the need for additional help, while helping the Prices to drought-proof their ranch.
“We are normally in a 120- to 180-day rest cycle, a period with no livestock in the pasture. When it does rain, every pasture except one has the opportunity to grow some grass without a critter biting it off,” said Frank Price. “When you graze at a conservative rate, leaving remaining grass cover after you move out of a pasture, the shading effect of the grass combined with no livestock gives you the opportunity to grow grass with limited rainfall.”
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NCBA Chief Executive Officer Forrest Roberts says Frank and Sims Price exemplify the best traditions stewardship and their ranch is a model of exceptional land management practices.
“The grazing management practices put in place by the Prices shows that adaptability of farmers and ranchers across the country,” said Roberts. “By working in partnership with state and local agencies and through the development of innovative grazing strategies, they have increased perennial grasses on the ranch, improved ground cover, reduced labor inputs, and ensured adequate forage for livestock and wildlife populations on their ranch. They have done all of this while keeping expenses down and improving the profitability of their operation.”
Roberts noted that despite the difficulty of drought conditions across much of the region, the Price family has been able to maintain their operation and until the drought and wildfires of 2011, the supplemental feeding of winter protein had not been required to maintain their base cow herd for the previous 11 years.
“The adaptability to manage the resources on the ranch and maintain those resources through difficult times, demonstrated the importance of good stewardship and showcases the skills of this father/son team,” said Roberts.
The Frank and Sims Price Ranch dates back to 1876, when Frank’s great-grandfather left central Texas at the age of 18 to begin ranching. Today, the ranch operates on 68,000 acres divided into six units across four counties in West Texas.
“Frank and Sims operate the ranch with two goals in mind. The first goal is that the ranch must be operated as a stand-alone business. The ranch follows a strict budget and is expected to show an annual profit,” said Jim Bob Ellisor, Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationist. “Their second goal, like many, is to leave the land in better condition for future generations. They rely on conservation to preserve the land and their rich ranching heritage.”
ESAP, now in its 23rd 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; USDA-NRCS; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; NCBA; and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation. Dave Owens, the range and pasture portfolio leader for Dow AgroSciences, said the award is important because it recognizes the hard work of farmers and ranchers, like the Prices, while demonstrating that good land management practices can be beneficial to the land as well as the profitability of the ranch. Dow AgroSciences has sponsored the program for the last 14 years.
The Frank and Sims Price Ranch was nominated by Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, The Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Isa Cattle Co. The Prices were recognized as one of seven regional ESAP winners during the 2013 Cattle Industry Summer Conference.