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National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) reports:

The Masonic Village Farm, near Elizabethtown, Pa., was recognized as the national winner of the National Cattlemen's Foundation Environmental Steward Award during the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) Trade Show in Nashville, Tenn. The Masonic Village, a not-for-profit continuing care retirement community owned and operated by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, has partnered with federal and state agencies as well as private agricultural organizations to manage natural resources.

"For America's cattlemen and women, conservation and environmental stewardship is a must. At the Masonic Village Farm, they have raised the bar by partnering with local, state and federal governmental and private organizations to implement innovative practices and technologies that will leave the land and its resources better for future generations of beef producers," said NCBA Chief Executive Officer Forrest Roberts. "As the entire industry works to continually improve our environmental sustainability, the Masonic Village Farm is a shining example that we should all strive to achieve. It is an honor to recognize the leaders at the Masonic Village for their willingness to go the extra mile in the name of environmental stewardship."

The Masonic Village Farm, which has been in operation for more than 100 years, raises 180 cow/calf pairs, maintains a feedlot that finishes approximately 200 steers annually, grows corn, soybeans and hay land. The Village implements rotational grazing to maintain its pastures; uses manure from feedlots to fertilize its fields; and innovative watering systems throughout the farm. Additionally, the farm invites the public to tour the facilities and learn more about the possibilities of stewardship in agriculture.

The Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP), now in its 21 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; the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (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 recognizes the work beef producers do to conserve and improve the land and its resources. Dow AgroSciences has sponsored the program for the last 13 years.

"All the winners are outstanding. They showcase the types of innovative work that takes place on farms and ranches nationwide," Owens said. "The work they are currently doing not only benefits their operations today but will continue doing so for years to come."

The Masonic Village was nominated by the Pennsylvania NRCS and was recognized during the 2011 Cattle Industry Summer Conference as one of six regional ESAP winners.

"It has been spoken by more than one person at The Village that they take blue sky and green grass and make red meat," said Denise Coleman with the Pennsylvania NRCS, which nominated the Masonic Village Farm. "In doing so, they seek a balance between the land, the cattle, the crops, the residents and the environment to remain a profitable, productive and viable agricultural operation."

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