Brian Weedon, who has been ranching near Swift Current, Sask. for nearly 40 years, credits the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA) with helping him learn the ropes.
“By rubbing shoulders with some of the best ranching families and individuals in the province, to me it was like going to university and not having to pay the tuition,” says Weedon.
Weedon came from a grain-farming background, though he also worked in a feedlot as a teenager. Today Brian and his wife Glenys run about 375 Angus cows, plus backgrounder calves, on 13,000 acres in the Sand Hills. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association presented them with an environmental stewardship award in 2011.
Weedon says the coarse-textured sandy soils make it very important to avoid overgrazing. “Once you get wind erosion and the like, it’s tough to turn back.”
The Sand Hills have both warm- and cool-season grasses, so the hills can green up again in August and September. And although there is no surface water, there is very good well water. Brian and Glenys have been replacing the aging windmills with pipelines.
The Weedons usually sell their yearlings in August off the farm, but Weedon says if there’s a drought, “we could pick up the phone and get rid of maybe 30 to 35 per cent of our inventory right now.”
StockGrowers reach mlestone
Weedon served on the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association board for several years. During his tenure as president, the Stock Growers tackled the anti-dumping and countervailing action by the U.S. in the late 1990s.
The SSGA also endorsed the business plan for the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency when Weedon was president, and he says he had to help sell it to the beef industry.
Not everyone in the beef industry saw themselves as part of the food industry at that time, Weedon says. “Unfortunately, we have to ask for things but the consumer can demand. And if we don’t meet those demands, they vote with their wallet.”
Over the years, the Stock Growers have also helped implement the Grazing and Pasture Technology Program and collaborated with Saskatchewan Agriculture to bring in field people to help ranchers use pasture resources to their full potential.
Weedon says he is proud of the Stock Growers’ contributions to the beef industry.
“In the long haul I think the Stock Growers have been there for all the challenges that have come along and made huge contributions to the industry on the provincial level, the federal level, and, of late, the international level, working with their sister organizations in other provinces and the CCA,” says Weedon.
The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association is celebrating its 100th anniversary this summer. It will hold a ranch rodeo, beef barbeque, and barn dance at the Moose Jaw Exhibition Grounds on June 9, followed by their convention and annual general meeting on June 10 and 11. For more information, visit skstockgrowers.com/100th. †