Marc and Jodi Schriefer of Golden Valley, N.D.
Marc and Jodi Schriefer of Golden Valley, N.D.

By Kindra Gordon

 Being conservation minded is something Marc Schriefer grew up with. His father planted trees, strip cropped, and included grassed waterways on the family farm near Golden Valley, ND. As the third generation on the family operation, Schriefer and his wife Jodi have kept conservation top-of-mind. “We look at things holistically. It’s not about this conservation practice or that, but what can we do to affect our enterprise and benefit the larger area as a whole,” Schriefer explains.

The Schriefers have worked to instill that conservation ethic in their two children, daughter Cassi and son Riley, who with his wife Cheyenne are now the fourth generation involved on the family operation.

Today, Schriefer Red Angus includes registered Red Angus and commercial cattle. Schriefer says, “We are ranchers who farm.” He and wife Jodi started the Red Angus herd with a couple registered heifers for their kids to show when they were younger. As their cowherd grew, so did their investments in conservation. 

Lori Klein, district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service Beulah Field Office, credits the Schriefer family for taking a thoughtful approach to conservation implementation. And, she adds, “They are willing to share their experiences as they implement new conservation practices on their operation.”

Working with NRCS, they utilized an Environmental Quality Incentives Program contract to add cross-fencing and four miles of water pipeline. “This has helped enhance our grazing options especially during dry years,” Schriefer explains. 

Another conservation improvement they were able to address with their EQIP contract was an ag waste system for their backgrounding feedlot. “Our original corrals were built in the 30’s and 40’s and it was down in a creek bottom. It wasn’t a year-round creek, but it was a drainage,” Schriefer says. 

Recognizing that their backgrounding lot was not set up ideally, especially with regard to water quality for the creek, the Schriefers installed a complete ag waste system, which they say was a win-win. “It added efficiency to our production and it is better for our downstream neighbors,” Schriefer notes. Today, they background lightweight steers, as well as yearling bulls and heifer calves in the facility. 

Among their other conservation enhancements, the Schriefers have utilized no-till on their farmland since 2004, have planted several hundred trees, utilize planned rotational grazing, and most recently, through a Conservation Stewardship Program contract are using manure analysis to monitor forage quality and identify protein deficiencies for their cowherd. Both NRCS Farm Bill programs and local watershed 319 funds have helped the Schriefers achieve their conservation goals.

All total, the Schriefers believe conservation’s biggest benefit is leaving the land better for the next generation. Schriefer concludes, “There are a lot of operations like ours where a father and son are operating together. With the current farm economy and challenging commodity prices, conservation cost share programs are important to ensure conservation practices are being implemented to benefit future generations.”