Environmental Regulation…

Protecting the Environment and Caring for Our Animals To Bring You Safe, Great Tasting High-Quality Nebraska Beef..

The above is the mission statement for my cattle feed yard.  I drafted it many years ago when I wanted to create a simple, yet powerful commitment for my farm.  This statement brings together the three pillars of my personal pledge as a farmer:

  • Commitment to Environmental Responsibility
  • Commitment to Animal Well-being
  • Commitment to Food Safety

Interestingly enough, these are also the three pillars of the Progressive Beef program.  I guess that great minds thing alike!

karyncalf.jpgI view each pillar as a promise that begins with daily animal care and management of the feed yard, but also extends past my farm’s boarders.

When I began my tenure at the feed yard, I carried with me a deep seeded belief that doing the right thing was a universal philosophy shared by everyone.  It took me many years to fully understand why environmental regulation needed to be a component of environmental responsibility.  Perhaps I was naive, but I viewed regulation as an unnecessary step to protecting the resources of my farm.

Taking care of our farm seemed as natural to me as breathing.  The beauty of the land and our desire for long term sustainability to this day continues to demand that my favorite farmer and I are dedicated care takers.


Our farm is both our livelihood and our home — Our pride and our legacy.

As I quickly approach 40 years of wisdom, I recognize that regulation is a reality.  There are times when I am filled with frustration, doing hours of tedious record keeping in order to satisfy government requirements.  But, there are also times when regulations likely push me to do a more comprehensive job on my quest for environmental responsibility.  Just like anything in life, there are both positives and negatives in every journey that we undertake.

I made a decision several years ago that I needed to be both committed to environmental responsibility on my farm, and also strive to collaboratively work with my state regulatory agency.  We share the common goal, caring for Nebraska’s natural resources, and likely can learn from each other because our perspectives are different.


Last week, I hosted a group from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality at the feed yard.  This visit was a follow up from a talk that I gave at NDEQ’s annual field inspector retreat last April.  It gave me the opportunity to meet Blake Onken, the new Supervisor for the Agriculture Section of the Water Quality Division of the NDEQ, as well as Cay Ewoldt who is a section supervisor for the Field Services office.  Accompanying them was my NDEQ field inspector, Jerry Newth, who is in charge of auditing the feed yard on a yearly basis.

Following a tour of the feed yard, we visited for more than an hour about many issues and concerns, and how we can work to improve the collaborative nature of our relationship.  I appreciate the feedback that they offered to me and hope that I was able to give them a glimpse into the perspective of a cattle feed yard owner.  I am optimistic that we can continue to make positive improvements in our journey toward environmental stewardship.

While each one of us, in our own way, can pursue the common goal — I believe that it is likely that together we can get there more effectively. 


I would like to thank Blake, Cay, and Jerry for taking the time to visit with me.  Additionally, I would like to challenge each one of us involved in both agriculture and environmental regulation to strive to attain a strong measure of collaboration. 

The future of both our country and our earth depends on it…


Filed under Environmental Stewardship, General

4 responses to “Environmental Regulation…

  1. Larry DeShon

    Enjoy your blog and agree with your philosophy on raising beef! I am a small lot, 8 at a time, but feel the same as you do on my animals! How do you respond to Chipotle?? Do a blog, please!

    • Thanks for the support, Larry! It is great to hear. Yes, I have an opinion on Chipotle — because of it, my family does not eat there 🙂 Look for a future blog on the subject, and you can also get a glimpse into my thoughts by looking at the Thoughtful Thursday post last week. Even though I did not mention Chiptotle in the post, they were in my thoughts as I put the picture collage together.

      Keep reading!

  2. Ann,
    I am always amazed at your ability to state what really goes on in your day to day life. So many people are skewed by bad media, poorly made movies that only show a small isolated incidents of bad animal care and then they overgeneralize that all animals are poorly cared for, etc. Its so refreshing to hear from someone who is actually living the life and knows so may others who life the same life really caring for their animals and making these three pillars the foundation of their work.

    Love the first picture on this post and the second shows how much the girls are growing up.


    P.S. I somehow missed the Chiptotle thing so I am eager to hear about this in a future post as well.

    • Thank you, Kim! I also love the first picture. I took it with my I Phone a week or so ago when Karyn (my youngest) was moving a calf. The sun had just popped over the horizon and it was a beautiful and peaceful moment! I also agree that the second picture shows how big my girls are getting. I honestly don’t know where the days go as I could swear that it was just yesterday that they were babies…

      Thank you also for your feedback. Posts like these are always interesting for me to write. My relationship with government regulators over the years have been varied, but I really try to focus on collaboration as I know that we do a better job when we work together 🙂

      Looking forward to responding to your “writing” post here on the blog — very interesting/thought provoking questions!


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