Ranch wins sustainability award

Janice and Trevor Tapp were early adopters of the environmental farm plan. They were recently named winners of the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association ranch sustainability award.  |  Barbara Duckworth photo

British Columbia couple recognized for environmental stewardship, animal welfare efforts and community involvement

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — Environmental and social sustainability were natural choices for Trevor and Janice Tapp when they started their ranch at Fraser Lake in northern British Columbia.

Named the winners of the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association ranch sustainability award, the couple was recognized for their attention to land care, environmental stewardship, animal welfare, community involvement and succession planning.

Caring for the land and water seemed an obvious thing to do for the first generation ranchers, who chose the farming life after Trevor retired from the RCMP in 1999 and Janice stopped teaching school after 37 years.

“There was something about the value of the land and that never leaves you,” said Janice after receiving the award at the cattlemen’s annual meeting in Kamloops May 25-27.

Trevor was a Manitoba farm boy who joined the RCMP when he was 20. He was eventually transferred to Fraser Lake, about 160 kilometres west of Prince George.

They already owned some cattle because one Christmas Janice gave Trevor two heifers they boarded in Alberta until they could find a ranch of their own.

They both came from farming backgrounds but having their own ranch offered them an opportunity to start from scratch. Their first piece of land was a bare 240 acre hayfield where they developed buildings, fences, grazing plans and water facilities over time.

They were eager to learn and try new ideas.

“Janice is an educator, a reader and a learner. We have gone to every training session that came available,” Trevor said.

The intention was to raise good beef in a healthy environment.

Using electric fences and a specially designed alleyway system, the Tapps use a rest-rotation grazing program where the cattle stay on the grass for a week to 10 days. They also make their own hay and feed cattle over the long winter. The summer days are long but there are only 55-60 frost-free days.

Water protection was one of the first concerns the Tapps addressed. Two creeks flow through their property and into the Fraser Lake, a major source of water for the community, ranch and First Nations.

They installed a hard water crossing and fenced off the water ways. They added solar water pumps for summer and geothermal water systems for winter.

Community involvement comes in different forms. They have collaborated with different groups to develop riparian projects and they were early adopters of the environmental farm plan

They were the fifth ranch in B.C. to become verified beef producers and added the newest component with the Verified Beef Plus program.

Active in the Canadian Hereford Association, Janice is the B.C. association secretary. They use the total herd evaluation program to monitor their cattle’s genetic progress.

Copper T Ranch has grown to 80 cow-calf pairs of registered polled Herefords. The Tapps sell replacement and bred heifers, 4-H steers and two-year-old bulls, as well as beef direct from the farm.

Cattle are processed at Vanderhoof, B.C.

To help keep Janice’s teaching talents fresh, the couple invites groups to visit the ranch, where they can talk about agriculture and food production.

They were also interviewed for the CBC program, Still Standing, which is expected to air next year. The program focuses on small communities that have lost a major industry and managed to thrive. Fraser Lake had a major mine close, but the region continues to work because of agriculture.

With no children of their own, succession planning was solved when they started working with Bill Lloyd and Jamie Richardson and their young son, Jesse, who are taking over the ranch.

“We love where we live and we love what we are doing,” Janice said.

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