Stewards of the Land

The Stewards of the Land Project is intended to improve grazing practices in Iowa while simultaneously providing environmental benefits, such as improved soil health and water quality. The project is grant funded by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) with additional support from the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, the Iowa Cattlemen's Foundation, and Prairie Creek Seed.

More information: 

About Stewards of the Land

Upcoming Events


April 2018 Iowa Cattleman - Planting Cover Crops for Fall Grazing Field Day

February 2018 Iowa Cattleman - Paddocks for Pasture Revival

February 2018 ICA Cow/Calf Chronicle email newsletter

January 2018 Iowa Cattleman - A Year in Review

January 2018 ICA Cow/Calf Chronicle email newsletter

December 2017 Iowa Cattleman - New Grazing Resources Directory

November 2017 Iowa Cattleman - Managing Risk in Cow-Calf Operations: Workshop 2

November 2017 ICA Cow/Calf Chronicle email newsletter

October 2017 Iowa Cattleman - USDA Risk Management Products for Cow/Calf Producers

October 2017 ICA Cow/Calf Chronicle email newsletter

September 2017 Iowa Cattleman - Managing Risk in Cow/Calf Operations

September 2017 ICA Cow/Calf Chronicle email newsletter

August 2017 Iowa Cattleman - Cover Crops and Crop Insurance

August 2017 ICA Cow/Calf Chronicle email newsletter

July 2017 Iowa Cattleman - Iowa Cattlemen's Association to Host Pasture Walk in Garden Grove on Aug. 3

July 2017 ICA Cow/Calf Chronicle email newsletter

June 2017 Iowa Cattleman - Cover Crops and Cattle at BeefMeets

June 2017 ICA Cow/Calf Chronicle email newsletter

May 2017 ICA Cow/Calf Chronicle email newsletter

April 2017 Iowa Cattleman - Planning for mid-season pasture slump

April 2017 ICA Cow/Calf Chronicle email newsletter

March 2017 Iowa Cattleman - Frost Seeding and Other Interseeding Options

March 2017 ICA Cow/Calf Chronicle email newsletter

February 2017 Iowa Cattleman - Rethink Fertilizing Your Pasture/Soil Sampling in the Pasture

February 2017 ICA Cow/Calf Chronicle email newsletter

January 2017 Iowa Cattleman - State of the Industry: Grazing Management

January 2017 ICA Cow/Calf Chronicle email newsletter

ICA Grazing Advisor - Linda Shumate

email Linda or call 515-296-2266

ICA represents over 10,000 beef producing families and industries. With a mission to 'Grow Iowa's beef business through advocacy, leadership and education,’ ICA has focused on efforts to enhance the number of cows, cattlemen, and grassland acres in the state. 

As corn prices sky-rocketed to $7 dollars three years ago and interest increased in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) due to higher rental rates, it’s no wonder why the number of cows on grass has decreased in Iowa over the past few years.  There seem to be more incentives for producers raising crops vs. livestock and the cow-calf producer.  

According to the USDA 2012 Census of Agriculture, the state of Iowa has lost roughly 1,600 cow/calf farms and over 110,000 cow/calf pairs since 2007. Given Iowa’s fertile soil and recent record high commodity prices, it is clear the state’s cow/calf sector suffered from a reduction in the number of pasture and forage acres. 

According to the Iowa Beef Center Cow/Calf Producer Survey, 60% of producers felt that non-cattle production competition affected their ability to buy or rent additional pasture or hay acres, with 80% of the competition falling to row crop conversion.

Additionally, the state will likely see a transformation over the next 5-10 years regarding the concentration of acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). At this time Iowa has 1,167,785 acres enrolled in CRP. In October 2017, close to 20% of enrolled CRP acres will have contracts up for expiration. At that time, landowners will have to make a decision to either re-enroll acres in CRP or put them back into production growing crops or grazing livestock. With diminished funds predicted for CRP from a federal perspective, resources are needed to ensure marginal acres are managed as grasslands. 

These challenges do not mean the cow-calf industry cannot be productive and profitable. With proper grazing management practices, producers can increase stocking ability on few acres.  Along with stocking more cows, by increasing the overall soil health in our pastures, producers will be able to sustain longer grazing periods, possibly reducing additional hay expenses later.  By encouraging proper grazing management, producers will not only improve soil health but will also have a positive impact on Iowa’s water quality.

Cattlemen are often recognized as the original stewards of the land. Cattle farmers and ranchers must first take care of soil and water quality in order for their cattle operation to be productive. However, there is extensive competition for grassland acres and limited technical assistance specific to grazing management available in the state currently.

In today’s world, with tight margins and risk filled markets, making the decision to allocate additional acres to grasslands requires financial investment and technical expertise. Through the Stewards of the Land project, ICA is able to provide these resources to cattlemen who have a positive impact on the state’s natural resources.

As your new grazing advisor and facilitator of the Stewards of the Land project, I’m here as a resource to help you. I can assist you in finding potential cost-share incentives to implement good conservation practices, creating a strong management plan which can potentially increase your return on investment.

Together, we can work to grow and improve your operation, the cow-calf industry in Iowa, and our state’s environmental sustainability in 2017. Contact me at or 515-296-2266 to get started and watch for several educational events across the state in the coming year.


Field Day: Increase profitability in a diversified operation - Grazing cover crops in 60 inch rows 

Hosted by: Brian & Heather Kessel, Lamoni

Directions: From east side of the Lamoni Livestock Auction Barn, take gravel road (R30/150th ave/Smith Street) north approx. 2.6 miles. Entrance to the field is on the west side of the road.
In case of severe weather, the event will be held at the Lamoni Livestock Auction Barn.

11:30 - Registration/Welcome
12:00 - Lunch
12:30 - ICA Government Affairs and Stewards of the Land Project Update; Casey Allison, ICA Membership Coordinator
12:45 - Soil Health Demonstration; Linda Shumate, ICA Grazing Advisor & NRCS Representative
1:15 - 60” Row Spacing and Grazing can increase Profitability; Bob Recker, Founder of Cedar Valley Innovation LLC. & Jim Johnson, Sport Wade Inc.
1:45 - Grazing Cover Crops: Nutritional Value and Risks; ISU Beef Specialist, Chris Clark
2:25 - Closing Questions/Answers
*USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) will be on hand to answer questions.

Event Sponsored By: 
Iowa Cattlemen’s Association Stewards of the Land
Sport Wade, Inc
Practical Farmers of Iowa

Meal provided by:
American State Bank
Agronomic Solutions
Quick Ag Enterprise - Mike Quick
Boswell Brothers Elevator
Stardust Ag Aviation
Contiuum Ag, LLC
Decatur County Corn Growers

RSVP to or 515-296-2266 by Oct. 19.