On this 40th annual Earth Day, a central Iowa farmer and rancher is being honored as the 2010 Iowa Environmental Stewardship Award winner by the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. Bill Couser runs the Couser Cattle Company, a second and third-generation feedlot operation in Story County.
“We call our farm the full circle,” Couser says. “From the seed production to the commercial corn to the feed lot and the co-products to taking the manure back out to the farms and replenishing the land, we see ourselves as a full circle entity here.” His operation encompasses about 3,500 head of cattle and 5,000 acres in seed corn and soybeans.
“When we look at Iowa agriculture, whether it be the Iowa farmers, the livestock industry, whatever it is, every day is Earth Day for us out here,” Couser says. “What we plan to do here is give this land to the next generation better than we received it.” Couser started raising beef cattle as a teenage 4-H member.
After college, he started raising cattle and hogs with his parents and launched his own operation in 1977. He says he views the land as his livelihood and his legacy as he uses science-based land management practices on his cattle feed lot to protect our natural resources.
“It’s one of the recyclers of the world,” Couser says. “We can take a lot of the biomasses that come off these fields and use that in our rations and our feedstuffs to be able to economically support and feed these animals throughout the year. When we look at these places that we do not farm that are basically there for livestock and grazing, it’s just a great way to utilize all these areas in the state.”
Iowa leads the nation in the number of acres set aside for conservation on private farmlands, reducing soil erosion, protecting water quality and stabilizing stream banks. Couser says Iowa’s ethanol producers strive to minimize impact on the environment and maximize resources.
“We look at the ethanol industry and we look at the co-products coming out of the ethanol industry, it’s just huge what Iowa agriculture has done for this industry,” Couser says. “When we look at feeding and fueling the world, we can do that here, with all of us together and working together.”