A Grassland Conservation Chat with Jerry Doan

December 15, 2023 - Talking to Haylie Shipp from his six-generation ranch outside of Bismarck, ND, the passion to conserve grasslands runs deep for Jerry Doan. A recent inductee into the North Dakota Agriculture Hall of Fame, Doan has spent a lifetime of tweaking and adding to the ranch homesteaded in 1882.

Among the tweaks, Doan and his family have embraced a holistic approach to management. That strategy helped to earn them the Environmental Stewardship Award from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association in 2016. Along with changes in management, they’ve also added enterprises from outfitting to weddings to an on-site brewery. 

Doan now speaks publicly and passionately about the need to conserve grasslands, citing their ability to sequester carbon and maintain a thriving habitat for wildlife while also providing the platform to turn grazing into valuable protein. 

“There’s so much that we can do to help keep these grasslands intact and keep a healthy livestock industry,” stated Doan. “We know we need these ruminant animals.”

Citing threats to the grasslands, Doan addressed mismanagement and development as well as the temptation to turn grassland into cropland. It’s a threat that he says has been enticed by government programs. These programs and their subsequent payment guarantees, he indicated, make it much more attractive for a bank to loan money to a cropland farmer than a grassland rancher. With tight breakevens and high interest rates, it’s a choice that sometimes makes itself.

Interested in hearing the full conversation? Listen to latest installment of the Ranch Stewards Podcast titled "Safeguarding Grasslands and Cattle Industry Red Flags." A project of the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance and our network’s Haylie Shipp, it’s available on all major platforms and online at www.RanchStewards.org.