Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Conservation Award

Nominations are currently open for the 2021 Pollinator award

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), Pollinator Partnership (P2), and Canadian Forage and Grassland Association (CFGA) are pleased to announce the call for nominations for the 2020 Canadian Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Conservation Award. Individuals or families in Canada currently implementing pollinator protection measures on their farm or ranch are encouraged to apply.

The Farmer Rancher Pollinator Conservation Award recognizes an individual or family in the farm and ranch community in the United States and Canada who has contributed significantly to the protection of pollinators on their farm and/or in the farming community. One recipient will be awarded in each country.

More information about the award and the nomination process can be found here.

Download the Nomination Form.

2020 – Ian Steppler, Steppler Farms LTD

Ian Steppler is the president of Steppler Farms Ltd, a farming enterprise that manages over 3,500 acres of arable land as well as a few thousand acres of pasture near Miami, Manitoba. Steppler Farms breeds and sells purebred Charolais cattle and operates a commercial honey bee operation of approximately 1,200-1,500 hives. Ian’s land management philosophy focuses on protecting flowering plants and grasses in order to provide year round nectar and pollen resources. Pastures are seeded with a grass seed and pollinator mix, including white and yellow sweet clover. Grazing rotations allow the flowering plants to bloom again, extending the overall flowering period. Ian always considers pollinators in his pest management decisions, and is passionate about not spraying ditches to the point that he works with his local municipality to mow 15 miles of ditches in his area. He is the vice-president of the Manitoba Beekeepers Association, a director of the Deerwood Watershed Authority, and leads the committee to establish the Knowledge and Research Transfer Program for the beekeeping industry in Manitoba. Ian also regularly shares his farming and beekeeping philosophy with others through his YouTube channel with 50,000 subscribers. In 2019, he spoke at 12 conferences outside the province and was the keynote speaker for the Manitoba Watershed Conservation Association’s annual conference.

Past Award Winners

2019 – Robin Hunt and Johan Bos – Big Rock Ranch

Big Rock Ranch is a family-run, certified bee-friendly farm that raises free-range heritage chicken, runs a mixed fruit and vegetable garden market, and a small Bed and Breakfast. Robin Hunt and Johan Bos strongly believe in keeping its food as close to its source as nature intended. With a passion for sustainable farming and animal welfare, this young couple embarked on an adventure to providing the public with access to fresh, locally-grown produce.

2018 – Cody Straza and Allison Squires – Upland Organics

Cody Straza and Allison Squires are co-owners and operators of Upland Organics, a 2000 acre certified organic grain farm near Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan. Their vision is to create a family orientated, environmentally and economically sustainable organic farming operation, which contributes in a positive and significant way to both the local community and the greater organic agricultural community. To this end, they are working towards converting their entire farm to no-till. Cody serves as the Vice President of SaskOrganics, allowing him to promote the organic industry across the prairie provinces. He also joined the Organic Value Chain Round Table, bringing the prairie farmer’s perspective and input to national level discussions. Allison promotes involving organic producers at the individual farm level and believes that it will contribute to the overall applicability of research in this sector. She has helped implement several onfarm research projects at Upland Organics, and serves as director on the Canadian Organic Growers board. Upland Organics is a certified Bee Friendly Farm through Pollinator Partnership. They are one of the few large-acre farms in Canada to hold this certification.

2017 Antony John

The CFA congratulates Antony John of Soiled Reputation in Sebringville, Ontario on being the 2017 recipient of the Canadian Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Conservation Award.

Antony has built his entire farm on the principles of fostering biodiversity. Some of the highlights of the farm include:

These aspects help create a sustainable ecosystem, helping soil health, pollinator populations and reducing soil erosion naturally.

2016 – Marc and Chantal Bercier

The CFA congratulates Marc and Chantal Bercier of Bercier Farms in St-Isidore-de-Prescott, Ontario on being the 2016 recipient of the Canadian Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Conservation Award.

The Bercier’s have worked hard to improve the land around their farm, creating a wetland to help filter out water from their farm before it feeds into the nearby Scotch river. The wetland and farm are populated with pollinator sites with a wide range of over 30 species of flowers and plants to encourage biodiversity. Their efforts have helped to improve both soil and water quality on their farm and the surrounding area.

2015 – David Ainslie

The CFA congratulates David Ainslie of Golden Rod Farms in Essex County, Ontario on being the 2015 recipient of the Canadian Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Conservation Award.

An innovative farmer who was among the first in his region to adopt conservation farming techniques, such as no-till cropping, David Ainslie has worked tirelessly to incorporate his understanding of natural systems into his farm operation. By designating some 40 acres of his land as natural areas – featuring a woodlot, wetlands, windbreaks and pollinator garden, just to name a few – David has succeeded in improving water quality and wildlife habitat on his farm, while proving that conservation efforts and conventional farming can work well together.

2014 – Grass Roots Family Farm

The CFA congratulates Michael, Laura and Takota Coen of Grass Roots Family Farm as the 2014 recipients of the Canadian Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Conservation Award.

While the Coens have been practicing sustainable farming since the late 1980’s, son Takota recently started investing in agroforestry on the family’s 250-acre farm. Takota has diversified several acres of farmland where livestock graze between rows of planted fruit, nut and timber trees. This approach provides immense benefits for local wildlife, most notably pollinators that gain increased habitat and food supply. Learn more about the Coens’ innovative efforts here.

2013 – Y U Ranch

The CFA congratulates 2013 winners, Bryan and Cathy Gilvesy of YU Ranch in Ontario, for their leadership and innovation in cultivating natural ecosystems that both protect the pollinators and produce a strong food supply.

The Gilvesy’s have been raising Texas Longhorns for more than 15 years. Commitment to a sustainable land ethic has always been an important part of their business. In an effort to improve the local ecology, they installed a 2000 ft pollinator hedgerow and bee nesting habitat. Read more about the Gilvesy’s work with pollinators, here.

2012 – Sunrise Farm

The CFA congratulates 2012 winners, Don and Marie Ruzicka of Sunrise Farm in Alberta, for their motivation to farm in harmony with nature and protect pollinators on their farm.

The Ruzicka’s recognized that by creating conditions where pollinators could thrive, that they may also be able to enhance alfalfa and cicer milkvetch seed production on their pastures. Pollinator conservation has become such a high priority on their farm that a research project was initiated in 2010 to improve the understanding of how best to design shelterbelts for pollinators. Learn more about the Ruzicka’s work with pollinators, here.


Why Are Pollinators So Important?

Pollinators are essential to the food system. Without them, we would lose one-third of our diet and most terrestrial ecosystems would collapse.

In Canada, there are more than 1,000 pollinating species – including bees, butterflies, moths and beetles – that are essential to the production of over $1 billion in apples, pears, cucumbers, melons, berries and many other kinds of Canadian produce. These insects, and the crucial daily work they do, are being threatened by various factors. Clearly, agriculture has a role to play in the survival of our pollinators.

CFA is committed to a science-based approach in dealing with bee health and neonicotinoid-treated seeds. While there remain conflicting preliminary scientific results on whether neonicotinoid-treated seeds are resulting in colony collapse disorder and poor honeybee health, the results of new seed planting measures from Health Canada are important in considering any new actions to protect and preserve the health of bees. Further studies are needed in order to gain a more comprehensive and definitive understanding of colony collapse disorder, the effect neonicotinoids may have upon the European honeybee and alternatives to neonicotinoid-treated seeds.

Until there is a better understanding of the impact that specific neonicotinoids have on the health of pollinators, neonicotinoid-treated seeds represent significant environmental and health advancements in pest protection for several crops, as well as cost savings and increased productivity in the Canadian agricultural sector. To remove them as one of the tools available to farmers could result in the use of older, more hazardous pesticides that neonicotinoids had largely supplanted.

CFA is dedicated to promoting a better understanding and appreciation of all pollinators, with a particular focus on bees, while continuously seeking to decrease any environmental impact of farming, promoting best practices and supporting pollinator habitat. Farmers have a very close relationship with pollinators and are committed to continue to provide quality pollinator habitat, supporting biodiversity and working closely with regulators to ensure effective and affordable pest management tools are available.