Meet Cherie Copithorne-Barnes and family, a 5th-generation ranch operating in the foothills east of Calgary, AB.
Sustainability to us means leaving the place in better shape that when you first took the reins. When an operation focuses on a strategy that looks to be socially responsible, economically viable and environmentally sound, its long-term viability is much easier to achieve. Succession becomes easier as a path is set that can be measured and adjusted in order to succeed on all fronts.
Cherie was the founding Chair of the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, where she lead the establishment and development of the CRSB, including its Certified Sustainable Beef Framework. Cherie is an outstanding advocate for the Canadian beef industry and in her own community.
Why we became a certified sustainable ranch
I chose to become certified because I saw firsthand how simply telling my story about doing the right thing was not enough to invoke confidence in the public. You need a tangible tool to measure your actions and the results need to be overseen by a 2nd or 3rd party in order to instil confidence in an ever-increasingly concerned public. The CRSB’s framework does just that. It measures what we do intrinsically every day and delivers the information in a way that can be either marketed or to reassurance our customers.
Some of the practices we use to demonstrate sustainability include:
- Riparian area inventories conducted by Cows and Fish so that I can see if my operations are in any way negatively affecting the waterways.
- We use off site solar water troughs to keep cattle off sensitive banks as well as improve their access to clean water for better herd health.
- We select for genetics that can handle the landscape and weather conditions of my ranch and produce a calf in an economically viable manner.
- We have a Veterinary-Client relationship to ensure that the cattle are managed in the most responsible, innovative and effective manner possible.
- We fence-line wean in order to minimize stress in calves.
- We are active in our community through 4-H, various beef organizations and the Calgary Stampede in order to ensure that positive messaging surrounding beef production can be heard at all levels.
Our role in the beef supply chain is to produce a sufficient number of calves to meet the needs of our consumers. We do this in a way that enhances the grasslands and wildlife biodiversity around us. Not only is this important for the environment we ranch in, but also ensures that the cattle thrive. The welfare of the cattle is our top priority for if they suffer, so do we.
I am so proud to have been a founding participant (CHAIR) in the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. To have witnessed such an amazing amount of positive collaboration and cooperation amongst all the beef value chain members in the name of building public trust, has been an honour. The CRSB Certified program is the culmination of all this great work and can only get better as we learn what truly makes Canada a global leader in beef sustainability.