The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has named the Sayre family of Waffle Hill Farm in Harford County, Md., its Conservationist of the Year. CBF honored the Sayres at an awards presentation March 30, in Annapolis, Md. The award is given annually to honor outstanding service and commitment to the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay.
"The Sayre family has a long history of being exemplary environmental stewards," says Stacey Katseanes, director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Katseanes is program coordinator for the Environmental Stewardship Award Program which is administered by the NCBA and sponsored by USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service and Dow AgroSciences, LLC. The Sayre's operation was honored with the ESAP award for Region I in 1992, during the program's second year.
Lawrason Sayre and his son, Ned Sayre, raise 300 head of registered, grass-fed Angus cattle on their 400-acre Waffle Hill Farm just eight miles from the Chesapeake Bay. On the farm, which the family purchased in 1960, the Sayres practice management-intensive grazing.
The concept, which the family adopted in 1987 in place of traditional corn feeding, relies almost entirely on the natural grass of their pastures for feed. This allows them to carefully control the time and area in which the herd is allowed to graze, and has doubled the farm's cattle production with less labor, less expense, and a higher net return. Better management of their grass coverage allows for more effective filtering of surface water, minimizing the cattle's impact on streams and creeks.
Ned Sayre says environmentalists and farmers share common goals: improved water quality, land stewardship, and farmland conservation. But keeping our farms and ranches intact is becoming increasingly difficult in areas where development encroaches on property and land value escalates.
"There isn't a farmer who's not an environmentalist," says Lawrason. "There's nothing you want to lose less than your land."
The Sayres are leaders at the state and national level. They are members of the NCBA, and both Lawrason and Ned have served as president of the Maryland Cattlemen's Association.