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  • Writer's pictureNorth Dakota Wildlife Federation

Community, Cattle and Conservation

How can ranchers and farmers improve soil health, maximize profits, and live a better life? A documentary called “Carbon Cowboys” starts a discussion on how some producers are doing just that. Learning from friends and neighbors to make our community, business and the environment better for us and future generations is the goal of an event called Community, Cattle and Conservation. North Dakota Grazing Lands Coalition (NDGLC), Pheasants Forever (PF), Stark and Billings County Soil and Water Conservation District (S&B SCD), and North Dakota Wildlife Federation (NDWF) came up with the idea to bring this conversation to the local area and hope to keep the conversation going.

By showing three paddocks of the documentary and then having NDGLC mentors lead the attendees in discussion, we hope that people can leave with ideas and concrete knowledge on how to improve their livelihoods. NDGLC mentors already practice these methods here in North Dakota, so they bring real time experiences to the topics presented by the videos. In the series Carbon Cowboys, there are 10 paddocks. We will focus on three that pertain to North Dakota ranchers and producers.

Here is a brief description of the videos:

soil carbon cowboys

Gabe Brown, Allen Williams and Neil Dennis were all going out of business with their conventional grazing – then nature forced their hand to try grazing without chemicals because they couldn’t afford them anymore. They are now the pioneers in regenerative grazing – replacing the specter of bankruptcy with resiliency. These ranchers regenerate their soils which makes their animals healthier and their operations more profitable. Robust soils enable rainwater to sink into the earth rather than run off; and retain that water, so the ranches are much more resilient in drought.

one hundred thousand beating hearts

Fourth generation cattleman Will Harris shares his evolution from industrial, commodity cowboy to sustainable, humane food producer. A growing group of consumers look at beef consumption as a terrible environmental and moral choice. Harris’s work in southwest Georgia shows how he produces healthy beef that regenerates his soils and allow the animals to express their natural instincts. The 150+ jobs he has created are breathing new life into a community left behind and forgotten due to, as Will says, the industrialization of agriculture.

during the drought

Michael Thompson, a young farmer in Kansas, is regenerating his soils with no-till, cover-crops practices coupled with Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) grazing - giving his farm resilience during the severe 2011 and 2012 droughts. While his neighbors’ soils are washing down gullies and blowing away towards the east, Michael is building a farm he can leave to his children. His exemplary work was given the Kansas Farm Bureau Natural Resources Award.

Join your friends and neighbors on Tuesday November 14 from noon to 3 pm at the Choice Bank basement in Belfield for Community, Cattle and Conservation- a showing and discussion of Carbon Cowboy documentaries. The event is sponsored by Pheasants Forever, North Dakota Grazing Lands Coalition, Stark and Billings County Soil Conservation Districts, and North Dakota Wildlife Federation. This Free event is limited to 50 participants with a delicious meal catered by Four Corners Café of Fairfield. Register by going to and click on Community, Cattle and Conservation or call Cara Greger at 320-808-4897.


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