"The members of the 2005 National Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) Selection Committee are extremely proud to announce this year’s seven regional award winners, hailing from diverse family cattle operations from across the United States.

"These families are being nationally recognized for leading exemplary, long-term stewardship practices on their land," the selection committee said in a statement. "The winners of this award are actively working to protect and improve the environment because they know environmental stewardship and good business go hand-in-hand. These leaders understand that good land management demands they care for the environment for their own welfare, as well as for future generations.

"We are also proud to announce that 2005 marks the 15th anniversary of this premier environmental award program. These winners will continue to serve as role models for fellow cattle producers for years to come.

"A big thank you goes out to Dow AgroSciences, LLC and the Natural Resource Conservation Service for sponsoring this valuable program, which fosters environmental creativity, innovation and perseverance nationwide among today’s cattle-producing families."

The 2005 Regional ESAP Winners are:

— Region I: Li’l Ponderosa Enterprises in Carlisle, Penn., nominated by Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association.

— Region II: Lightsey Cattle Co. in Lake Wales, Fla., nominated by Florida Cattlemen’s Association.

— Region III: Faris Farms in Mount Ayr, Iowa, nominated by Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

— Region IV: Richards Ranch in Jacksboro, Texas, nominated by the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

— Region V: Simms Cattle Co. LLC in McFadden, Wyo., nominated by Wyoming Stock Growers Association.

— Region VI: Prather Ranch in Fall River Mills, Calif., nominated by California Cattlemen’s Association.

— Region VII: Gates Angus Ranch in Coldwater, Kan., nominated by Kansas Livestock Association.

"Picking these winners out of the impressive pool of applicants proved to be a tough task, but we are very excited about this year’s winners. Once again, the group represents diverse geographical areas across the country and many generations of families." the selection committee said.

"This program has come a very long way since its establishment in 1991 by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The program provides yearly public showcases of the stewardship and business practices that exist together on progressive farms and ranches. It gives us the chance to nationally acknowledge producers like these, who go the extra mile when it comes to preserving and enhancing the resources on their land.

"While the program highlights industry stewardship, it also provides cattlemen with examples and ideas that may be useful on their own farms and ranching operations for years to come."