IFAJ 2023 - Media Guide

Thank you for visiting our Ag Stories Worth Telling. As you navigate each article, we hope you find some captivating stories that you may want to learn more about.  Each story has either a photo gallery, links to additional information, or contact information if you want to find out more.  You can also contact us at ecdev@brooks.ca and we can help you source additional information.

You are welcome to use the photos for your editorial and personal use, with the permission of the Brooks Newell Region

Land Water Energy People

Land Water Energy People - VIDEO

Feature Length Articles

Dessert to Oasis: Eastern Irrigation District

Water Lead to Growth in the Brooks Newell Region

The Eastern Irrigation District – or as the locals call it, the EID - covers more than 1.7 million acres of land in Southern Alberta. The EID is absolutely vital to life in the Brooks Newell Region and serves over 13,000 customers, providing them with the water and support they need to grow crops such as wheat, barley, canola, and sugar beets. But it's not just about farming – the EID owns and operates some great recreational sites and they implement various environmental stewardship programs and initiatives such as wetland restoration, water quality monitoring, and habitat enhancement.


But how did the EID get to this point?

The story of the EID can be traced back to the late 1800s when settlers began arriving in the Canadian prairies. They quickly realized that the semi-desert climate made it difficult (not quite impossible, but quite difficult) to grow crops, and was deemed unlivable. Ouch. They named this area of southern Alberta the Palliser Triangle, which usually only receives about 30cm (12in) of precipitation annually, with only about 15cm (6in) of rain during the summer growing season. However, later settlers recognized the land's potential and began looking for ways to make it more productive.

Fast forward a few decades to when the first seeds of innovation were planted and plans for irrigation began to sprout. The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) built the original irrigation delivery system between 1910 and 1914 to attract more people to the area. They knew this area had a lot of potential for farming due to its hot and sunny climate and fertile soils and being a major land owner, they knew they could turn a profit if the land was usable. The system included the Bassano Dam, delivery canals, reservoirs, and the Brooks Aqueduct, which allowed more people to move to the area and start farming.

However, the farmers in the area didn't feel that the CPR was running the irrigation system effectively, leading to frustration among many. Coupled with the global economic depression of the 1930s, many farm families left the area to find work elsewhere. In 1935, a group of farmers within the Region approached the CPR with a proposal to take control of the system; they sought to acquire the Bassano Dam, the irrigation delivery system, all private land still owned by the CPR, and $300,000 in cash to operate the system as they saw fit.


And boom, the EID was created.


From very humble beginnings, the system grew to become vital to life in the Region and the largest irrigation districts in Canada. Aside from aiding in more efficient farming and ranching for Canadian producers, the district also provides municipal water to the Regional population of over 25,000. The EID has remained a crucial player in the agriculture industry in Alberta, providing vital infrastructure and support to farmers across the Region. In addition to providing water for irrigation, the EID has also become involved in various community initiatives, including supporting local 4-H clubs and promoting environmental stewardship. The EID owns and operates several recreational sites, including Lake Newell, the Rolling Hills Reservoir, and Crawling Valley, which attract visitors from all over the world.

With a commitment to water efficiency and sustainability, environmental programs remain front of mind. Throughout the 20th century, the EID worked on a water conservation and management program, which included installing flow meters, developing water management plans, and implementing new technologies to reduce water usage.

Today, the EID is a modern, innovative organization that continues to play a significant role in developing agriculture and the economy in the Brooks Newell Region. With its state-of-the-art irrigation system, cutting-edge technology, and commitment to environmental stewardship, the EID is a shining example of how water can transform even the most arid regions into thriving agricultural communities. The story of the EID is a remarkable one; just add water to go from a semi-desert wasteland to a thriving agricultural hot spot.


Want to see for yourself? Check out this photo gallery.

Want to learn more? Visit their website.

Want to talk to them? Click here for contact information.

Want to see more? Check out this video on irrigation.

Alberta Field Peas

Tilley Area Farmers Find Success Pushing Envelope Growing Crops Like Peas

“I love that I’m in Ag.”

When Lesley Burton talks about the work she and her husband Scott do every day on their farm in southeast Alberta, you can hear her passion, energy, and pride as she describes what it means to her to produce food for the world.

Scott and Lesley are fourth-generation farmers with roots that go deep into agriculture.  They have two daughters, Beth and Emily, who are yet to make the decision if they will follow in the footsteps of previous generations.

Tillorie farms, located near Tilley in the County of Newell, boasts a strong crop rotation, which ensures crop sustainability and good soil health. The Burtons credit this success to the knowledge that was passed down by previous generations and their ability to build on it with new practices.


The couple challenges themselves to seek out new opportunities for their land, which is what lead them to Dry Field Peas.

Alberta Field Peas Given International Environmental Standard Label

Many producers in Canada have embraced pulses, such as peas. Statistics Canada says in 2021 - 1,629,000 tonnes of dry field peas were grown in the country. 

As much as 22,262 acres were grown in the County of Newell in 2016.

Pulses in general have seen a huge bump in notoriety since the United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses.

And now, Alberta Pulse has achieved an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for Alberta field peas, which shows the environmental performance to supply chain members in local and international markets. Those advantages include needing less water than other crops, they fix nitrogen in the air, and the crop also has a low carbon footprint.

When it fixes nitrogen in the air it forms a symbiotic relationship with specific bacteria which live in association with the plant roots.  The bacteria infect the plant roots and form nodules.   At this point, the bacteria use nutrients from the plant and provide nitrogen to the plant in return.

More and more local and international food retail companies are now using EPDs as a measure when securing sustainably grown food.

There are now 1,000 EPDs registered in over 37 countries, a staggering increase from the 139 published ranging from pasta, olive oil, bread and cheese, amongst many others.

Tillorie Farms Rotates In Peas

A few years ago, Scott mentioned he wanted to try something a little different from the wheat, canola and flax that they had been growing in that rotation.

Lesley thought this was an excellent idea, having grown up in Saskatchewan where peas and lentils are heavily grown. 

Burton says they were astounded by the results of this crop, as it’s very easy to grow.

“We found the yield was great under irrigation. I think it suits the area quite well if you just need something in your rotation there to split it up,” she says.

A bonus is that it does not need as much fertilizer, which may pique farmers’ interest as input costs continue to skyrocket.

Burton says outside of the dust at harvest time, which can create a fire hazard on the farm equipment, she enjoys hauling them since they are nice and clean.

Market access in the county also makes it an attractive crop to grow.

Burton says they don’t even store the peas on-farm during harvest clearing up bin space for other crops. Instead, they take the harvested crop to the elevator in Cassils, west of Brooks, and ship it off to their buyer.

They also grow grass and alfalfa seed on top of their regular crop rotation and have recently expanded into the strawberry and raspberry business.

If growing all these crops wasn’t enough of a workload.

Lesley also keeps busy with her soil sampling company, Idyllic Resources (https://www.idyllicresources.ca/), the only business of its type in the County of Newell.

She says there was a big hole in this area, prior to her launching the business, as other independent companies would have to send their experts from as far away as Calgary or Lethbridge to cover off the area.

She really enjoys connecting with all her clients in the region.

"Getting to know the people is the biggest thing. I like seeing them, talking with them on the phone, if everyone’s busy, it’s always great to sit and have a conversation.”

Of the roughly 668 farms in the County of Newell, Tillorie is most likely the only one that has its own soil sampling company on it.

Her work across the county and Eastern Irrigation District (EID) has made her even more appreciative of the access farmers’ have to water for their crops.

Irrigated land makes up about 307,000 acres in the EID.

Burton says trying new things like adding peas into their crop rotation can work out very well, you just need to plan it out and take a chance.  


Want to see for yourself? Check out this photo gallery.

Want to talk to them? Click here for contact information.

What’s with the huts? Leaf Cutter Bees and the Hybrid Canola Industry

What’s with the huts?

You might find yourself driving across the flatlands of southern Alberta this summer, and here’s hoping you do. Between crystal blue skies, bright sun-filled days, fields in full bloom, and the hidden gems of lakes, rivers and reservoirs, it’s totally worth the trip. While you’re road-trippin’, you’ll probably notice some little huts and tents, scattered throughout the fields. But before you think it, the answer is, “NO. This is not a COVID response to socially distanced camping!” Actually, those little huts are bee houses, and they play a super important role in the agriculture industry that drives the Alberta economy.

Leafcutter bees act as tiny little farmhands - pollinating crops such as alfalfa or hybrid canola. Alfalfa is a humble member of the pea family and is primarily grown for forage, especially as hay; it takes a mere 20,000 bees to fully pollinate an acre of alfalfa. Yup, that’s a lot. Alfalfa is one of the most useful and widely grown hay crops in the world and in places like the Brooks Newell Region, located in Southern Alberta and home to JBS Foods Canada, there are more than a few (thousand!) cows and a huge demand for high protein feed. And so the supply chain goes like this: people want the beef, and the cattle want the alfalfa… now cue the bees!

If you happen to get up close and personal with a leafcutter bee, have no fear. They’re about a third of the size of a regular honey bee and while they’re able to sting, they’re generally non-aggressive. They’re also not particularly protective of their nests, which are housed in the huts and tents throughout the fields.  Farmers will hatch the bees and release them into the shelters where they build their nests. Throughout pollination season, bees return to the nests to lay eggs and deposit bits of pollen and little leaf cuttings as a food source. By the end of summer, the crop has been pollinated, the eggs have been laid, and the life cycle of these little helpers is over. Farmers collect the nests, now filled with eggs, and store them over the winter months so that they can be hatched for the next season, when the cycle will repeat itself. Isn’t that handy?!

Side note: No, leafcutter bees don’t produce honey, but their honey producing cousins usually live alongside them in these huge fields filled with millions of open blossoms. Leafcutters do most of the pollinating and the honey bees capitalize on all that nectar to make pure, natural alfalfa honey. Grab some from local stores, cafes and gift shops throughout the Brooks Newell Region!

Pollination usually takes place in July, when it’s hot and sunny and tourists are on the move. And while you can’t help but marvel at the wide, endless blue sky, bright yellow canola, and purple blossoms of lush, leafy alfalfa, it’s also natural to question the strangeness of a row of bright orange tents in the fields. But question it no more - now you know the truth about these unsung, buzzy little heroes of the agriculture industry!


Want to see for yourself? Check out this photo gallery.

Want to get in touch? Click here to contact a producer.

Want to know more about the role of leaf cutter bees? Click here to get contact information.

Grains to Glass - Pivot Spirits Distillery

A farmer in Rolling Hills, Alberta, who searched for something new, took a distillery tour with his wife and found out a man only needed barley, yeast, and water to make scotch. With this knowledge, Larry Hirch completed a distillery course, started using the crops they grow , and opened Pivot Spirits Distillery in March 2020.

The couple started with vodka, then quickly added gin, young whiskey, and rum-style spirits that are made from sugar beets grown in the area. They’ve attached a tasting room to the distillery where visitors can sip a creative cocktail, like blueberry mojito, spicy margarita, hibiscus gin sour, orange thyme gin and tonic, or spiced pomegranate gin fizz, while eating a cheesy, house-made pizza.

“We’re Alberta’s only irrigated farm distillery, and in the spring to fall, we offer a distillery tour where people can see the crops growing, see the irrigation system in action, and feed spent grain mash to our cows,” says Hirch. “We have unique crops that we can grow in this area, and I feel blessed to help people connect with that through the spirits we’re making.”

The business owner often heard stories about his grandfather who made spirits in Europe after the second world war. These stories always gave Hirch an interest in the industry, and after farming for 30 years, he found himself distilling in his garage, grinding his own grain, and finding more time to make spirits.

“Right away, people find the building quite beautiful. We have solar panels and some old, unique architecture, and our distilling equipment is beautiful,” says Hirch. “You hear a lot about people talking about the best grains in the world, and I’m located right in the heart of this productive area. People in Southeast Alberta don’t have to travel far to the mountains or other cities to experience a distillery.”

Pivot Spirits Distillery often rotates their cocktail menu, serving drinks like Hawaii Five-0 and classic dilly caesar. Along with tasty food and refreshing drinks, the area comes with beautiful views.

“The irrigation and crops make the area so lush and beautiful, and to me I’ve always been drawn to rural scenes. We have the beautiful prairies right here, and the river valley with unique geographical structures, like hoodoos and the badlands,” says Hirch. “Living in Rolling Hills allows me to stay connected to rural life, and I am proud of the productivity in these irrigated lands.”

Pivot Spirits Distillery can be visited during their open hours of operation and are also involved with the Sip the South Tour led by Prairie Sprinter, where ticket holders are toured to breweries and distilleries local to Southeast Alberta.

“We’ve really become a destination and people love the atmosphere. They say what we offer here is unique and they spend a lot of time here tasting and sampling. There are more people coming through this way than we ever thought possible,” says Hirch.


Want to see for yourself? Check out this photo gallery.

Want to learn more? Click here to visit their website.

Ready to see it in action? Check out this video.

Badlands: From Prairie to Mars

Badlands: From Prairie to Mars

Prepare to be blown by the other-worldly wonders of Dinosaur Provincial Park, nestled just 48 km (30 miles) northeast of Brooks. This natural gem has garnered global acclaim, attracting visitors from all corners of the world. With its awe-inspiring landscapes and storied past, it's a destination made for nature lovers and dinosaur aficionados alike.

Step into the Canadian Badlands, a realm of sheer beauty and serenity that will transport you to another world. The Badlands boasts a surreal charm, seamlessly transitioning from rolling prairies to a terrain that evokes the very essence of Mars. No matter how many times you visit the Park, you’re going to be blown away by how the landscape goes from flat prairie to plunging valleys full of hoodoos. These remarkable formations result from ancient seas depositing layers of sediment millions of years ago, only to be shaped by the forces of wind and water, ultimately revealing an array of rocks and minerals. As you explore, you'll also encounter traces of a vibrant cultural history left behind by Indigenous peoples like the Blackfoot, Cree, and Assiniboine nations, their heritage etched in rock art, burial sites, and scattered artifacts throughout the Badlands.

In the 1930s, the Canadian government took a leap forward by establishing Dinosaur Provincial Park. This act aimed to safeguard the Badlands' extraordinary geology and the fossil record. Today, the Park stands as a revered UNESCO World Heritage site, captivating visitors who yearn to witness the splendour of hoodoos, explore fossils, and partake in fascinating tours and events. Within the Park's boundaries, an enthralling journey through time awaits, with over 50 species of dinosaurs from the Late Cretaceous Period (75 million years ago) making up 4-5% of the world's known dinosaur species. But it doesn't stop there—this prehistoric zoo also includes fish, reptiles, salamanders, birds, and small mammals.

Groundbreaking discoveries continue to unfold within Dinosaur Provincial Park. In 2022, researchers unearthed an extraordinary find—a mummified young hadrosaur. This duck-billed dinosaur roamed the Earth around 69 million years ago. Unbelievably, much of its skin and soft tissue was preserved, an incredibly rare occurrence in the realm of dinosaur fossils. This discovery has the potential to shed new light on the evolution and behaviour of hadrosaurs and dinosaurs, forever altering our understanding of these ancient creatures.

Guests can engage with two outdoor interpretive displays that unlock the paleontological heritage of the Park, embark on self-guided interpretive hiking trails, or take a scenic drive along the public loop road. For those seeking immersive experiences, indulge in guest speaker presentations, educational video conferencing, and school programs. And remember the indoor family theatre and outdoor ampitheatre programs that promise unforgettable moments. To venture even deeper, join park interpreters on bus tours and hikes into the restricted access Natural Preserve, visit areas where bones and fossils literally litter the ground, and unlock your inner dinosaur-geek.

So, if you yearn for an other-worldly experience that will leave you awestruck, stop in at Dinosaur Provincial Park just outside Brooks, Alberta, Canada. Prepare to be amazed as nature unveils its wonders, and the rich tapestry of cultural history unfolds before your eyes—a legacy preserved for generations to come.

Want to see for yourself? Check out this photo gallery.

Want to learn more? Click here for their website.

Short Stories

Bow Valley Genetics

Since 2009, Bow Valley Genetics have been revolutionizing the way livestock breeding is done by providing advanced genetic solutions.

Imagine you're a rancher, and you want to have the best animals on your farm. That's where Bow Valley Genetics comes in. They have tests that can tell you all about the genes of your animals. Think of it like a genetic report card! This information is incredibly valuable because it helps you choose the animals with the best traits. You can select animals that naturally resist diseases, have excellent meat quality, and are fertile. This means you can improve your whole herd and make your farm more successful.

Bow Valley Genetics' artificial insemination (AI) capabilities are a game-changer. By giving farmers access to genetic material from elite animals, regardless of geographical limitations, AI opens up a world of possibilities. Small-scale farmers can now access superior genetics, previously limited to larger operations, resulting in enhanced breeding programs and the development of high-quality livestock.

Bow Valley Genetics isn't just important; it's essential. Their advanced genetic testing and AI technology empower ranchers to optimize your breeding programs, improve the quality of your herd, and overcome geographical limitations. They are revolutionizing the livestock industry and giving you the tools to stay competitive, enhance productivity, and ensure a prosperous future.

So, whether you're passionate about ranching or just interested in the cool things happening in the agricultural world, Bow Valley Genetics is a game-changer. They are helping ranchers make a real impact, create better livestock, and shape the industry's future.

Want to see for yourself? Click here for a photo gallery.

Want to see more? Check out this video.

Want to learn more? Click here to visit their website.

Want to get in touch? Click here for contact information.

Carbon sequestration in the Grasslands

The Brooks Newell Region is leading the way in finding new and innovative ways to combat climate change and promote sustainability. They are focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and have implemented groundbreaking projects to achieve this goal. One example is the University of Calgary's advanced carbon capture and storage test site, which received a significant investment of $7 million when launched in 2017. This state-of-the-art facility is a center for research and development, where experts work on capturing and storing carbon to help reduce its environmental impact.

Besides their efforts in addressing climate change, the Brooks Newell Region has also experienced significant land productivity and resilience benefits shown by the University of Alberta's Mattheis Research Ranch. With vast amounts of agricultural resources, including irrigated farmland, dryland farming, and rangeland, studies have shown that these lands retain considerable carbon dioxide within the soil. This is beneficial to cattle, biodiversity, and carbon capture. This increased capacity to store carbon in the ground helps the Region withstand drought conditions, ensuring the sustainability of its agriculture.

“We know that grasslands are holding onto large amounts of carbon," says University of Alberta rangeland ecologist Cameron Carlyle who's research will "help us quantify some of the contributions from the beef industry in terms of maintaining their land as grazing land, which helps keep carbon in the ground and not in the atmosphere.”

Soil carbon also helps retain water, which makes the prairie forage more productive and nutritious for cattle, as well as more resistant to drought, he says.

“Our research could help establish baseline values for carbon storage, and help identify specific management practices that would allow a producer to put more carbon into the ground.”

Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. It is one method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the goal of reducing global climate change. Studies by the U of A have shown the rangelands, open land used for grazing, hold large amounts of CO2. Which isn't news to the people who've been living off the land for generation - the grassland prairies of Southern Alberta are one of the world's most stable carbon sinks.

The Brooks Newell Region boasts extraordinary crop quality with over 300,000 acres of irrigated farmland, 600,000 acres of cultivated dry land farming and 600,000 acres of native and improved rangeland. 

Want to see for yourself? Click here to access the photo gallery.

Learn more about carbon storage test site here.

Learn more about carbon sequestration in pasture and forage land here.

Branding - An Ag Tradition

Cattle branding is applying a permanent mark or symbol on a cow's or other livestock's hide. It is done to identify, indicate ownership, and deter theft. Cattle branding has been used for centuries and is still widely used today.

The community spirit shines as neighbours and friends come together to assist in the branding process during spring. These events are not solitary affairs but a collective effort where everyone lends a hand. The camaraderie among the participants is palpable as they work in sync and support one another to complete the tasks at hand.

The branding itself is carried out with efficiency and care. Skilled cowboys with quick hands perform the necessary procedures, such as castrating, vaccinating, and branding the calves. Each step is essential for the health and identification of the cattle, and the cowboys take their responsibilities seriously, ensuring that the procedures are done accurately and with minimal stress to the animals.

While the work is demanding, the branding events allow the community to unite and enjoy each other's company. From the early-morning gathering of the pairs to the branding itself, people gather to witness and contribute to the process. The atmosphere is festive, filled with laughter, conversation, and shared experiences.

After the branding is complete, a feast follows, serving as a celebration of the hard work and a way to express gratitude to everyone involved. It becomes a social affair where people gather around a communal table, sharing stories, enjoying delicious food, and definitely consuming a few beers.

Want to see for yourself? Check out this photo gallery.

Want to get in touch? Click here to contact a local producer, Brad Osadczuk.

Want to see more? Check out this video.

Gemstone Grass-Fed Beef

Gemstone Beef - Providing Alberta Families with Trusted, High-Quality Grass-Fed Beef

Gemstone Beef is committed to supplying Alberta families with a trusted source of high-quality grass-fed beef. With a clear vision and mission rooted in regenerative farming principles, the company aims to improve the health of the land, cattle, and the families it feeds. At Gemstone Beef, high quality means excellent marbling, tenderness, and incredible flavour.

The ranch is located in the rural area of Gem, in the Brooks Newell Region, about 150km east of Calgary. Proudly operated by the Doerksen family, a fourth generation farming and ranching family, their passion and values are evident in the animals they care for and the products they produce. Lorin Doerksen, a Professional Agrologist and passionate rancher, says "we have many great memories growing up and working together on the farm with our parents and grandparents, and appreciate the work that past generations have done to help us be successful on our farm today."

As with those that came before them, animal care is a top priority, emphasizing a low-stress environment. Cattle are provided with a comfortable and natural setting, utilizing low-stress handling and herding methods, often using horses. During winter, the cattle roam freely in pastures. They are also offered wind shelter and straw bedding for protection during storms and extreme cold.

Gemstone Beef takes pride in its commitment to natural practices, evident in its "no added hormones" and "raised without antibiotics" approach. Cattle are allowed to grow and put on fat naturally without synthetic hormones. At the same time, antibiotics are used sparingly and solely to save a sick animal's life. Any animal treated with antibiotics is removed from the herd, and its beef is not sold to customers.

With a focus on transparency, sustainability, and the well-being of animals and customers, Gemstone Beef is a reliable and trusted provider of high-quality grass-fed beef in Alberta. Their dedication to regenerative farming ensures nutrient-dense, flavorful beef that nourishes the land and the families it serves.

Want to see for yourself? Check out this photo gallery.

Want to learn more? Click to visit their website.

Want to get in touch? Click here to contact the farm.

Benefits of Grass-fed Beef

Grass-fed beef offers a range of benefits that make it a popular choice for meat lovers. One notable advantage is the superior taste it provides. Cattle raised on grass diets develop meat with a distinct, rich flavour. The natural grazing process allows the animals to consume diverse plants, which adds complexity to the beef's taste profile. When you sink your teeth into a grass-fed steak, you can expect a juicy, tender texture and a delicious, earthy flavour that sets it apart from conventionally raised beef.

Beyond its delectable taste, grass-fed beef also offers nutritional advantages. Grass-fed beef is typically leaner than its grain-fed counterparts and contains lower overall fat content. It is also higher in beneficial nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their heart-healthy properties and potential cognitive benefits. At the same time, CLA has been associated with helping with weight loss, muscle-building and strength improvements. By choosing grass-fed beef, you not only indulge in a flavorful culinary experience but also gain access to a nutrient-dense protein source.

Want to see for yourself? Click here for a photo gallery.

Want to learn more? Click here to contact an expert.

JBS Foods - A production powerhouse

With approximately 3,300 employees, JBS Food Canada ULC (“JBS Canada”) is one of Canada's largest beef processors. JBS Food Canada consists of four locations — our main processing facility located in Brooks, Alberta, where approximately 4,200 head of cattle are harvested and processed daily; our Head Office and a case ready facility, both based in Calgary, Alberta; and JBS Ontario, a case ready facility located in Belleville, Ontario.

 The JBS Canada facility in Brooks has the capacity to produce products ranging from boxed beef primals, ground beef, beef trimmings, beef by-products and hides which are shipped across Canada. JBS Canada exports Canadian Beef across the globe to customers in more than 20 countries  

JBS Canada is proud to support the Brooks community where our team members live and work through strategic partnerships with local stakeholders and community sponsorships. Our Hometown Strong Program provides JBS Canada the opportunity to make meaningful investments in the community where our team members live & work. Our Better Futures program gives our team members and their dependents the opportunity to pursue higher education with subsidized tuition.

Want to see for yourself? Click here for a photo gallery.

Want to see more? Check out this video.

Want to get in touch? Click here for contact info.

Niznik Ranch: A legacy of Ranching, Preservation and now Wagyu Beef

Nestled in Antelope Creek, just outside Brooks, Alberta, Niznik Ranch is home to brothers Brad and Bruce Niznik and their families, continuing the fifth-generation ranching tradition. Their relentless commitment to producing the highest quality beef sets them apart.

Under the guidance of their father George and uncle Jack Niznik, Brad and Bruce have elevated Niznik Ranch to new heights. Meticulous planning defines their operation. Every decision, from genetics to to irrigating to grazing, is carefully evaluated for its impact on economics, land sustainability, and family well-being. This commitment has earned them the Certified Angus Beef 2021 Canadian Commitment to Excellence Award and Calgary Stampede Farm Family Award.

The Niznik’s focus on superior Angus cattle, selecting top-ranking bulls for desirable traits. They have formed a partnership with Brant Lake Wagyu, incorporating Wagyu genetics into their operation. This allows them to offer a wider range of high-quality beef options to consumers. Their approach results in outstanding calf performance, with recent shipments averaging 32% Prime and 68% AAA. They prioritize Certified Angus Beef to meet global consumer demand.

As a partner producer for Brant Lake Wagyu, they breed a full blood Wagyu bull with Angus cows to result in a Wagycross herd. The Niznik Ranch handles the breeding and calving as well as early care of the calves. In the fall, they will wean the pairs, bring the calves to a feedlot and provide care for approximately 100 days. After that, their partner steps in to provide the finishing on this Wagyu/Angus cross herd, bringing consumers some of the best beef in the world.

Niznik Ranch now supports over 1,000 cattle and four families, with hopes of continuing the legacy for future generations. The Nizniks exemplify resilience and dedication; their story showcases the enduring spirit of family, deeply rooted in the land and the ranching way of life. Niznik Ranch is a testament to their unwavering passion for a thriving future in the beef industry.

Want to see for yourself? Click here for a photo gallery.

Want to get in touch? Click here to connect with the producers.

Balancing Act: Energy & Ag

The Brooks Newell Region is a remarkable example of how the oil and gas industry and agriculture can coexist harmoniously. The Region has achieved a collaborative balance between these sectors, ensuring a sustainable and thriving community.  With the traditional stewardship of the land that is necessary for the agriculture sector, the shared use of the land requires the energy sector to be a willing partner in how it uses this valuable resource.

Especially as the world looks for ways to transition toward greener energy sources, the petroleum industry has embraced its role in providing trusted sources of energy, with a focus on sustainable energy development that minimizes environmental impact, while building relationships with local communities. Whether it’s through their development of carbon capture technology, land reclamation practices, air quality monitoring, or eco-system protection, many companies operate in a manner that aims to minimize their impact on air, water, land, biodiversity, and climate.

Oil and gas companies implement responsible extraction practices, utilizing advanced technologies to minimize environmental impact. Techniques like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing help reduce the footprint on agricultural land. Similarly, local farmers adopt sustainable agricultural practices such as crop rotation, precision farming, and efficient water usage, preserving soil fertility and protecting the local ecosystem.

The Region fosters a strong sense of community, with active engagement from both the oil and gas industry and the agriculture sector. Companies organize community events, sponsor local sports teams, and invest in social programs that enhance the well-being of the residents. This collaborative approach strengthens social cohesion and reinforces the bond between the industries and the inhabitants of the area. Through responsible resource management, environmental collaboration, and community engagement, there has been a success in creating a delicate equilibrium, ensuring a prosperous future for both industries and the Region as a whole.

Want to see for yourself? Check out this photo gallery.

Want to get in touch? Click here for contact information from an industry rep.

Want to see more? Check out this video.

Philpott's Honey

Philpotts Honey - Proud to be fourth generation beekeepers

It’s not just our small-town charm and welcoming nature that makes the Brooks Newell Region sweet, we've also got Philpott’s Honey, who produces 100% Pure Raw Honey. The honey is not filtered or processed in any way - just the way the bees made it! 

The Philpott Honey legacy started when Bill Philpott and his wife Mary arrived in the Brooks area from England in 1912. Bill came to Canada to work with the Duke of Sutherland, breaking new farmland. His brother Harry joined him later, and they both started keeping bees in 1919. They had separate businesses but worked together and were known as Philpott Bros., later called Philpott Honey Alberta Queen Honey.

Fast forward to 2010, the fourth-generation owners, Allan and Glen Philpott, along with brother-in-law Colin McCaig, have expanded the number of bee colonies from 5,000 to 10,000. Philpott Honey primarily produces light-colored, mild-tasting honey from alfalfa plants and ship it in metal drums across Canada and overseas. They continue carrying on the legacy their great-grandfather started in 1919. In 2019, the Philpott Family celebrated 100 years of producing honey in the Brooks Newell Region!

Can you bee-lieve it?  It takes two million flowers to make one pound of honey.

Want to see for yourself? Click here for a photo gallery.

Want to learn more? Click here for more information.

Want to get in touch? Click here for contact information.

Want to see them in action? Click here to see a video.

Free Range Pork at Spragg's Meat Shop

In 2002, after working in the commercial hog industry for two years, Greg Spragg’s dream to raise pigs of his own had solidified. On Greg’s birthday, his wife Bonnie gave him the gift that kept on giving. She surprised him with three little pigs, the first of many. By summer’s end, Greg and Bonnie had raised 75 pigs to market weight. 50 pigs were sold, leaving 25 for breeding stock.

By November 2005, Greg and Bonnie’s vision continued to grow as Spragg’s Meat Shop officially opened its doors. Expanding into processing allowed Greg and Bonnie to raise their hogs, process them and market their pork products all within Rosemary, Alberta in the Brooks Newell Region. While Spragg’s Meat Shop is the main processing and retail outlet for Spragg’s free-range pork, you can also shop at the Brooks Farmers Market and select grocery stores in Calgary and area.

  • Focus on quality and taste
  • Selling meat (pork, beef, lamb, and chicken) directly to the consumer
  • Pigs have a plant-based, antibiotic-free diet
  • Won several business awards in various areas, including environmental stewardship, protein
  • Open Monday to Friday as a full retail shop
  • Produce 20 kinds of sausage on a weekly basis to ensure that there is always a fresh supply ready for customers!
  • Customers drive from Calgary to Rosemary to make purchases and drive by the farm.
  • Started selling at farmer’s markets in 2004, and opened production in 2005. They also entered the Calgary market in 2005, eventually opening their own storefront in the city in 2017. Between Rosemary and the Calgary location, the Spraggs have 2 full retail stores in addition to their booth at the Calgary Farmer’s Market.
  • Bonnie and Greg find Rosemary to be the perfect split of city and rural, as it allows them to sell in Calgary and still live on the farm. Along with their daughter Ruth, they are hoping to continue as a multigenerational operation in the future!

Want to see for yourself? Click here for a photo gallery.

Want to learn more? Click here to visit their website.

Want to get in touch? Click here for contact information.



Rural Entrepreneur Stream a new route for Canadian Permanent Residency

Entrepreneurial Spirit Thrives with the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program - Rural Entrepreneur Stream

The Brooks Newell Region was founded and has grown by the hard work and dedication of ambitious entrepreneurs. Our local government is supportive of new business and the Region’s involvement in the Rural Entrepreneur Stream through the Alberta Government extends this business-minded hospitality to foreign investors and entrepreneurs.  

We are thrilled to work with individuals who are willing to invest in or start a new business by helping them connect with investors, locate properties and opportunities, hire staff and provide business support programs. Through the Rural Renewal Stream, in addition to bringing new investment into our community, foreign entrepreneurs can become permanent residents of Canada and long-standing, valuable members of our Region.

The City of Brooks, known as the “City of 100 Hellos”, has a long tradition of being a centre for immigration in Canada. Our settlement organizations and established communities of people from all over the Globe are ready and excited to welcome newcomers. Should you choose to embark on this journey with us, we are confident that you'll find a welcoming and inclusive environment that will empower you to thrive.

Want to learn more? Click here for more information.

Want to talk to someone? Click here to get in touch.

Want to see more? Click here to see a video. Or, check out this video.


U of A Rangeland Research Institute

Edwin and Ruth Mattheis, proud alums of the University of Alberta, donated their expansive 5,000-hectare ranch to the university, they envisioned the land being used to advance knowledge and understanding of rangeland ecology and management. This gift became the foundation for the Rangeland Research Institute (RRI), an organization dedicated to studying rangeland dynamics and developing sustainable management strategies.

Rangelands hold tremendous value as they provide essential forage for livestock production and serve as reservoirs of biodiversity. They play a vital role in conserving soils and maintaining wildlife habitats. What sets the RRI apart is its unique approach to conducting research on working ranches, offering practical solutions to real-world challenges faced by producers. This hands-on approach allows researchers to study rangeland dynamics and develop management strategies that balance ecological and socioeconomic objectives.

The RRI's research areas encompass a wide range of topics, including grassland ecology, wildlife management, grazing systems and cow-calf management, carbon sequestration and storage, impacts of climate change on rangelands, establishment, production, harvesting, and storage of forages, land reclamation, and water resources management.

Want to see for yourself? Click here for a photo gallery.

Want to learn more? Click here to visit their website.

Want to get in touch? Click here to connect with Mattheis Ranch Foreman

Alberta Invasive Species- Zebra and Quagga Mussels

Invasive species pose a significant threat to ecosystems and can have severe consequences for the environment and human activities. One example is the zebra and quagga mussels, freshwater mussels from Eastern Europe. These mussels can attach to various surfaces, such as docks, watercraft, rocks, and pipelines. Once introduced, they are nearly impossible to get rid of.

Zebra and quagga mussels have already infested the Great lakes in Ontario and to mitigate the spread to Alberta, multiple boat inspection stations at boarders serve as crucial checkpoints check all watercraft that enter the province. The presence of zebra or quagga mussel infestation in Alberta would result in annual costs exceeding $75 million. These costs are just from the expenses of maintenance and repair and the damage caused to water-operated infrastructure.

The impact of these invasive mussels, especially in the Brooks Newell Region extends beyond economic aspects. They can disrupt natural food chains and contribute to the formation of toxic algal blooms, which further degrade water quality. Consequently, this can lead to declining property values and recreational activities such as boating and camping. The presence of zebra and quagga mussels directly threatens the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers. Without a reliable irrigation system, these individuals face significant challenges in providing for their families and producing food for the nation. The dependence on irrigation makes them particularly vulnerable to the negative consequences of invasive species.

The EID Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program is critical to further safeguard the water systems in the Brooks Newell Region. To maintain the integrity of the water bodies, every watercraft entering the Region must undergo a thorough inspection before entering any of the Region's lakes or reservoirs. Be sure to clean, drain, dry all watercraft.

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Indigenous Heritage

The Blackfoot people are an Indigenous group with a fascinating history in Alberta, Canada. They have a deep connection to the land and have inhabited vast territories across the region. The Blackfoot's way of life revolved around the buffalo, which provided them with food, shelter, and other essential resources. They followed the movements of the buffalo herds, which guided their seasonal patterns and shaped their cultural practices.

However, when European settlers arrived, life became incredibly challenging for the Blackfoot people. The settlers hunted the buffalo on a large scale, causing a significant decline in their population and severely impacting the Blackfoot's traditional way of life. Despite these hardships, the Blackfoot people have managed to maintain their cultural heritage and resilience.

Today, the Blackfoot people continue to honour their ancestral lands and preserve their traditions. They are proud of their unique identity and strive to share their rich history with others. Their deep spiritual connection to the land and their enduring cultural practices make the Blackfoot people a significant part of Alberta's diverse heritage.

Want to learn more? Click here to get more information.

Drost Farm - Carrot Producers in Rolling Hills

Experience the delectable taste of farm fresh produce at Drost Farms, specializing in carrots. With a commitment to combating food waste, Drost Farms has implemented special carrot sorters that separate out the non-perfect carrots, packaging them at a discounted price. This innovative approach reduces food waste and offers cost savings, benefiting both consumers and the environment.

Drost Farms takes pride in its affiliation with Sunfresh Farms, a fruit and vegetable distributor based in Edmonton, Alberta as a company founded and owned by farmers. Sunfresh Farms shares a common ethos with Drost Farms, resulting in a harmonious partnership. Drost Farms proudly packs its produce under the Sunfresh label, ensuring customers' highest quality and freshness.

One of the many advantages of choosing local produce is the expedited journey from farm to table. With minimal travel time, vegetables from Drost Farms reach consumers' kitchens within days of being harvested. This rapid delivery not only guarantees exceptional freshness but also extends the shelf life of the produce. The result is a truly delightful culinary experience with unparalleled and vibrant flavours, a true taste of the Brooks Newell Region.

Want to see for yourself? Click here to view the photo gallery.

Want to see the producer? Click here for a video.

Want to learn more? Click here to visit their social.

Want to get in touch? Click here for contact information.

South Slope Feeders: A Century Old Family Legacy

The Graham family has been a fixture in the farming community of Rainier, Alberta for over a century. Their operation, South Slope Feeders, has grown from a 500-head capacity in 1967 to a one-time capacity of 15,000-head today.

The Graham family has been farming in Alberta since 1919, when they moved to Rainier from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Today, the fifth generation of Grahams call Rainier home. The current ownership group is comprised of four brothers, with their mother Joan, still involved both financially and in a mentorship role. Several of their children are also transitioning into the business.

South Slope Feeders is a diversified operation that includes crop production and a feedlot. The Grahams currently seed approximately 6000 irrigated acres out of a total of 6500 acres. Their crop production that is marketed through the feedlot includes corn, barley, and wheat for silage. They also grow specialty crops such as hybrid canola, beans, and sunflowers as part of their rotation.

Their business model is fairly basic. They use their feedlot to market a lot of their farm production. Their farms are a key to the feedlot, as well, by providing an outlet for their manure. The feeding side of the business is operated by attempting to extract a margin on the animals they purchase. They purchase heavier feeder animals from across Western Canada, feed them to a finished weight, and market them, almost exclusively, to JBS Foods Canada at their Brooks, Alberta plant.

The Grahams are committed to sustainable farming practices. They use their manure as fertilizer for their crops, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers. They also use precision agriculture techniques to minimize waste and maximize yields. Their commitment to sustainability has earned them recognition from the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame.

The Graham family's legacy of farming and feeding is a testament to their commitment to innovation, sustainability, and hard work. Their operation, South Slope Feeders, is a model for sustainable agriculture and a source of pride for the Rainier community.

Want to see for yourself? Click here for a photo gallery.

Want to learn more? Click here to contact the farm.


Fabian Seed Farm

Fabian Seed is a leading agricultural company that specializes in the production and distribution of high-quality seeds. From humble beginnings in 1995, the company has grown to become a trusted provider of seeds for various crops, including corn, soybeans, and wheat.

Fabian Seed prides itself on its commitment to innovation and research. The company invests heavily in cutting-edge technologies and employs a team of experienced agronomists and scientists to develop new seed varieties that are resistant to pests, diseases, and adverse environmental conditions. By leveraging advanced genetic and biotechnological techniques, Fabian Seed aims to enhance crop yields and improve farmers' productivity.

The company emphasizes sustainability and environmental stewardship. Fabian Seed promotes responsible farming practices and offers seeds that require fewer chemical inputs, thus reducing the ecological impact of agriculture. They also provide comprehensive support and educational resources to farmers, empowering them with knowledge to maximize their yields while minimizing their environmental footprint.

Fabian Seed is a renowned agricultural company dedicated to producing and supplying top-quality seeds. Their focus on innovation, research, and sustainability positions them as a trusted partner for farmers seeking improved crop productivity and environmentally conscious farming solutions.

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Want to learn more? Click here to access their site.

Want to get in touch? Click here for contact information.

Guardians of the Grasslands

The Canadian grasslands a forgotten ecosystem that demands our attention and action. They are one of the world's most stable carbon sinks, mitigating climate change and providing crucial habitats for over 60 at-risk Canadian species. These grasslands are vital to protect endangered and threatened species like the burrowing owl, swift fox, and greater sage-grouse. The grasslands support a diverse ecosystem, hosting migratory birds, insects, and mammals like bison. Their health is essential for maintaining the ecological balance of the region.

These grasslands hold cultural and economic significance, as sustainable cattle grazing has been a part of their history, benefiting both prairie ranchers and wildlife. By conserving these grasslands, we protect their value and ensure critical environmental services such as water filtration and soil health. With 74% of the Canadian grasslands already lost, it is crucial to raise awareness about their importance and take immediate steps to save and restore these vital ecosystems.

Want to see for yourself? Click here for the photo gallery.

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Hutterite Colonies - Traditional Values meet State of the Art Farming

Traditional Values meet State of the Art Farming

A desire to live free from religious persecution and a dedication to their traditional way of life are the underlying values that have allowed the Hutterite people of Alberta to thrive and become among the most technically advanced farmers in Canada.

Originating from the Anabaptist movement in 16th-century Europe, founded by Jakob Hutter and his followers, the communal movement sought refuge in various regions of Europe. Eventually, they migrated to North America in the late 19th century for religious freedom and economic opportunities. Initially settling in South Dakota, some Hutterites moved to Canada to maintain their communal lifestyle. The availability of fertile land and the promise of religious freedom drew them to the Canadian Prairies. Today, Hutterite colonies can be found in a number of Canadian provinces.

While their clothing may reflect traditional styles, the Hutterite communities have embraced modern agricultural practices. Their farming equipment is state of the art, making them highly efficient and productive. Hutterites are responsible for a significant portion of Alberta's agricultural output. They produce 80% of the eggs, 40% of the pork, 25% of the milk, and 20% of the poultry in the province. The hallmark of Hutterite life is their communal living arrangement. While each family has its own living space, daily meals are prepared in a central kitchen and shared together, fostering a sense of unity and togetherness.

Founded in 1955, the Springside Colony, located 25km northeast of Brooks along the Red Deer River, is one of 7 colonies with their home farm in the Brooks Newell Region.  With a population of around 160 people, their communal lifestyle is sustained through a shared effort of work, childcare, household duties, and elder care. The colony has its own school, church, feed mill, cement plant, butchery, commercial laundry and kitchen, along with a wide variety of equipment and facilities that allows it to maintain a level of self-sufficiency that is unique.

The Hutterite community is resistant to the acceptance of technology and personal goods common in the modern world, such as cell phones, electronic entertainment, or personal vehicles, yet they are very willing to adopt the best technology available to advance their farming practices. Some colonies have diversified their operations outside of the typical agricultural realm however, Springside remains focused on the more traditional farm sectors. They rely on their 24,000 laying hens, 350 head of cattle, turkey and pig operations to fill their days. Combine that with the variety of crops they grow on approximately 14,600 acres (5900 hectares) of land, of which around 6,500 acres (2600 hectares) is irrigated, the Springside Colony benefits greatly from an economy of scale that, like most Hutterite colonies, makes them a financially successful operation.

While they are protective of their traditional lifestyle, given the proper courtesy, Hutterite Communities are open and friendly to visitors who are interested in learning more about their farming practices and way of life.


Want to see for yourself? Check out this photo gallery.

Want to get in touch? Click here for contact information for David Wipf. 

Idyllic Resources

Idyllic Solutions is a soil testing company in the Brooks Newell Region dedicated to providing accurate and comprehensive soil analysis services. Although they provide a wide range of soil testing services including soil fertility testing, the majority of the work they do centers around testing for irrigation purposes. Soil testing on aspects like salinity, sodicity, pH, and sand content are done to determine whether or not a plot of land is would be eligible to achieve irrigable status under Alberta Agriculture.

By delivering detailed soil reports and tailored recommendations, Idyllic Solutions empowers clients to make informed decisions about fertilization, soil amendment, and land management practices. Led by a Professional Agronomist who also farms 1,300 acres, the team at Idyllic knows the importance of accurate data when it comes to efficient farming.

With their expertise in soil science and cutting-edge testing methods, Idyllic Solutions helps farmers and agricultural businesses optimize their soil health and maximize crop productivity. With a commitment to precision and customer satisfaction, Idyllic Solutions is revolutionizing soil testing and playing a crucial role in sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship.

Want to see for yourself? Click here for the photo gallery.

Want to learn more? Click here to visit their site.

Want to get in touch? Click here for contact information.

Soil Conservation

The County of Newell offers a Soil Conservation Program to promote sustainable land management practices. This program is designed to protect and enhance the health of the soil, which is crucial for agriculture and the overall ecosystem. The County of Newell aims to prevent erosion, improve water quality, and support long-term agricultural productivity by implementing effective soil conservation techniques. Through their Soil Conservation Program, they provide resources, education, and support to landowners and farmers, encouraging them to adopt practices that preserve and enrich the soil for future generations.

Zero-till agriculture, or no-till farming, minimizes soil disturbance by avoiding plowing or tilling the land before planting crops. Instead, farmers utilize specialized equipment to plant seeds directly into undisturbed soil, leaving the previous crop residue on the surface. This method helps to conserve soil moisture, reduce erosion, and improve soil health by preserving organic matter and beneficial soil microorganisms. The Soil Conservation Program provides education and resources to assist farmers in implementing zero-till agriculture, enabling them to achieve long-term sustainability and productivity while minimizing environmental impact.

Want to learn more? Click here to access their site.

Want to get in touch? Click here to contact the Director of Ag Services.

Welcome to the City of 100 Hellos

Though Brooks is a small City of only 15,000 habitants in the middle of the prairies, it is known across Canada for its incredible diversity. Living here are people from various ethnic backgrounds, with over 48 per cent identifying as visible minorities. Interestingly only about 35 per cent of residents are immigrants to Brooks, which means that about 15 per cent of individuals from a culture outside of Canada have been here long enough that they do not consider themselves “newcomers” any longer. People come here, and they stay!

Individuals and families from all over the Globe have chosen to make this city their home, bringing unique stories and traditions. You’ll hear many languages spoken here. In fact, we are known as “the City of 100 Hellos,” as about a third of the residents’ first language is a language other than either of our country’s official languages, English and French. Including Punjabi, Tagalog, Spanish, Arabic, Oromo, Tigrinya and many more.

This diversity adds flavour and excitement to the community, making it a place where everyone is welcome and can feel that they belong.  

Want to see for yourself? Check out this photo gallery.

Want to see more? Check out this video. Or, check out this documentary.

Want to get in touch? Click here to talk to an expert in the field.

JBS Foods - Full Circle Sustainability and Net-Zero Practices

JBS is the first major company in its sector to set a net-zero target. The ambition reflects the company’s goal to meet the health and nutritional needs of the growing global population in a sustainable manner that preserves the planet’s resources for future generations. As part of its commitment, the company has signed on to the United Nations Global Compact’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C initiative, which aligns with the most ambitious aim of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming.

“Climate change is the great challenge of our time and we must act urgently to combat the negative effects of global warming,” said Gilberto Tomazoni, JBS global chief executive officer. “As one of the most diversified global food companies, we have an opportunity to leverage our scale and influence to help lead a sustainable transformation of agricultural markets that empowers producers, suppliers, customers and consumers. Agriculture can and must be part of the global climate solution. We believe through innovation, investment and collaboration, net zero is within our collective grasp.”

To accomplish its net-zero goal, the company will adopt several strategies to achieve reductions in emissions, including:

  • Reducing direct emissions in its facilities: JBS will reduce its global scope 1 and 2 emission intensity by at least 30% by 2030 against base year 2019.
  • Investing in the future: JBS will invest more than $1 billion in incremental capital expenditures over the next decade in emission reduction projects. The company will engage its team members and award funding for projects to its facilities using a panel consisting of company executives, specialists and academics.
  • Eliminating deforestation: JBS will eliminate illegal Amazon deforestation from its supply chain – including the suppliers of its suppliers – by 2025, and in other Brazilian biomes by 2030. The company will achieve zero deforestation across its global supply chain by 2035.
  • Using 100% renewable electricity in its facilities: JBS will join RE100 and convert to 100% renewable electricity across its global facilities by 2040.
  • Fostering innovation: JBS will invest $100 million by 2030 in research and development projects to assist producer efforts to strengthen and scale regenerative farming practices, including carbon sequestration and on-farm emission mitigation technologies. This investment will contribute to reducing scope 3 emissions across the value chain, in our efforts toward net zero.
  • Ensuring accountability: Across the company, performance against environmental goals, including GHG emission reduction targets, will be part of senior executive compensation considerations.

The company’s announcement is a continuation of its longstanding commitment to sustainability and ongoing efforts to reduce emissions. In Brazil, JBS currently monitors 100% of its direct cattle suppliers for illegal Amazon deforestation and is leveraging blockchain technology to monitor the suppliers of its suppliers. In North America, JBS operations have reduced GHG emission intensity by nearly 20% since 2015. In the UK and Northern Ireland, Moy Park has reduced CO2 emission intensity by more than 77% since 2010, and Pilgrim’s UK previously committed to net-zero emissions by 2040.

Want to get in touch? Click here for contact information.

Want to learn more? Check out their site.

Still interested? Check out this webpage.



JBS is the world’s second-largest food company and the largest animal protein producer. With a global platform diversified by geography and products, the company has more than 245,000 team members in South America, North America, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. JBS offers an extensive portfolio of brands recognized for excellence and innovation, including Swift, Pilgrim’s Pride, Seara, Moy Park, Friboi, Primo, and Just Bare, which are enjoyed by consumers in more than 190 countries around the world every day.


Dutch Dairy - Rommens Dairy Farm

The Brooks Newell Region has a history of providing opportunities for young farmers, particularly from Europe, to immigrate and prosper in ways that would not be attainable in their homelands. The Netherlands has a strong connection to the Region, with many young farmers immigrating from there to own their own dairies.

Following in the footsteps of his four brothers, a newlywed Bert Rommens and his wife Wilma were a couple of those farmers who made the decision to move to Canada from Holland in the early 1960’s. After working for other area farmers for several years, Bert and Wilma where able to purchase two quarters of land in 1970 and start their own dairy. With hard work, they were able to grow the farm along with their family of five children, where it remains a successful operation that milks 200 cows an average 3+ times per day.

While Bert passed away in 2018, two of his sons, Will and Rob, continue to run the family business with their sons, investing in new technology that allows them to more efficiently manage their herd of Holstein cows and produce milk in a safe and sustainable manner.  Their recent investment in robotic milking and feeding equipment means that some of the hands-on, day-to-day duties of a dairy farm have been eliminated, but the need for monitoring the cows on a round-the-clock basis is still necessary. The new system not only allows them to track the amount of milk each cow produces, but it can also determine the amount of feed the herd is provided, alert them if certain cows are not being milked, and it can even detect potential health issues in a specific animal.

As with all dairy operations, there is a continuous flow of milk that needs to be collected. Every two days a shiny steel tank truck arrives at the Rommen’s Dairy to haul away their valuable commodity, and the process starts all over again.

The Brooks Newell Region has a history of providing opportunities for young farmers, mainly from Europe, to immigrate and prosper in ways that would not be attainable in their homelands. The Netherlands has a strong connection to the Region, with many young farmers immigrating from there to own their own dairies.

Following in the footsteps of his four brothers, a newlywed Bert Rommens and his wife Wilma were a couple of those farmers who made the decision to move to Canada from Holland in the early 1960’s. After working for other area farmers for several years, Bert and Wilma were able to purchase two quarters of land in 1970 and start their own dairy. With hard work, they were able to grow the farm along with their family of five children, where it remains a successful operation that milks 200 cows an average of 3+ times per day.

While Bert passed away in 2018, two of his sons, Will and Rob, continue to run the family business with their sons, investing in new technology that allows them to more efficiently manage their herd of Holstein cows and to produce milk in a safe and sustainable manner.  Their recent investment in robotic milking and feeding equipment means that some of the hands-on, day-to-day duties of a dairy farm have been eliminated. However, the need for monitoring the cows on a round-the-clock basis is still necessary. The new system not only allows them to track the amount of milk each cow produces, but it can also determine the amount of feed the herd is provided, alert them if certain cows are not being milked, and it can even detect potential health issues in a specific animal.

As with all dairy operations, there is a continuous flow of milk that needs to be collected. Every two days a shiny steel tank truck arrives at the Rommen’s Dairy to haul away their valuable commodity, and the process starts all over again

Want to see for yourself? Click here for a photo gallery.

Want to get in touch? Click here to contact the producers.

C.O. Johnson & Sons Ranches: A Century of Legacy

In the fall of 1919, two bachelor brothers from Nebraska came to the Canadian Prairie looking for an opportunity to buy a piece of land and start a new life.  C.O. (Oscar) and his brother A.T. (Albert) Johnson's legacy lives on as one of the oldest continuously operated family ranches in the Brooks Newell Region.  Originally started as a sheep ranch, the ranch is now a third-generation family-owned business that raises Red Angus and Hereford cattle under the stewardship of Oscar’s grandsons Blaine and his wife and their children along with Blaine’s brother Warren.

The ranch uses low-stress handling techniques resulting in a quiet herd of cattle, and modern production practices to improve the long-term sustainability of the land. As the ranch celebrates its 103rd anniversary in 2023, the fourth generation is stepping up to take part in the family business.  The ranch is a true family operation where the family works the land themselves and is committed to protecting and preserving the prairie.

Want to learn more? Click to visit their website.

Want to get in touch? Click here to contact the ranch.


Research and Development at the Crop Diversification Centre South

Opened in 1935, the Crop Diversification Centre South (CDCS) has operated under several different names: the Provincial Horticultural Station, the Alberta Horticultural Research Center, the Alberta Special Crops and Horticultural Research Centre... But the intent of the Centre has always remained the same, to develop a strong horticultural industry in the province of Alberta.

The CDCS is located four kilometers southeast of Brooks, Alberta, on a very old glacial lake bottom in the semi-arid short grass prairie. Historically, the Centre has had a focus on applied research and technology transfer programs in five commodity areas (fruit crops, greenhouse crops, nursery crops, potatoes and vegetable crops). Programs have also been conducted in crops such as pulses, herbs and spices, essential oils,, specialty grains, oilseeds, crops, corn, fibre crops and medicinal plants. Recently, the CDCS has been home to a number of leading scientists and researchers working on potatoes, pulses, tomatoes, strawberries and peppers.

Recent Happenings at the CDC South

Lethbridge College has collaborated with Sunterra Greenhouse and opened a new 60,000-square-foot greenhouse research facility in Brooks. The project researched various aspects of Alberta's greenhouse farming, such as testing different lighting, crop varieties, and sustainable production methods in Albertan climate. The facility allows for trials on strawberries and tomatoes, intending to improve profitability and economic sustainability for the greenhouse industry in Alberta. The state-of-the-art facility and scientific methodology will provide valuable insights for making informed decisions in greenhouse operations and promoting the growth of the industry in the Region.

The collaboration between Lethbridge College and Sunterra Greenhouse signifies a commitment to research and innovation, enabling the exploration of optimal growing conditions and crop varieties specific to Alberta's climate. By investing in greenhouse farming, Alberta can create new job opportunities, boost local economies, and enhance food security by reducing dependence on imported produce. Developing a robust greenhouse industry would also contribute to environmental sustainability by promoting efficient resource utilization and reducing transportation emissions associated with long-distance produce distribution.


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