Cattleman of the year

By Geoff Lee

November 10, 2016 12:00 AM

ROLLIN', ROLLIN', ROLLIN'... Darcy Eddleston and wife, Laurie, received this year's Cattleman of the Year award from Lloydminster Agricultural Exhibition Association president, Brian Kimmel, on Friday during the Stockade Roundup. Far left is emcee Robert Lundquist, chair of the awards committee. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO

Darcy and Laurie Eddleston are genuine hat and cattle farmers who care about their industry.
The Paradise Valley couple, that currently raise about 350 head of commercial beef cows, are the recipients of the 2016 Cattleman of the Year award.
The Eddlestons accepted the award before family and friends during the Stockade Roundup on Nov. 4 at the Lloydminster Exhibition Grounds.
“It’s very humbling to get that call,” said Darcy,  who has about 4,500 acres of farm land.
“You look on the wall at some of the past recipients of this award and there’s some incredible operations that I admire greatly for the work they do—some of the incredible herds they have.”
The cattleman award is in recognition for their outstanding contribution to the commercial cattle industry and their commitment to excellence exemplifying quality rural life and involvement in the community.
Laurie has been one of the most active leaders of the Kitscoty 4-H beef club that she says her three daughters and son have belonged to for 13 or 14 years.
“It’s a great club for one thing,” she said, noting she’s been a leader for about 12 years.
“It’s not as big as it was in past years—we’re hoping for more numbers in the next few years, but just the 4-H program in general is a great youth program.”
She says because it’s a beef program, it helps kids to know how much it costs to buy and feed a calf and if there is any money left for profits when they sell it.
The Eddeleston’s farm dates back to 1906 with a history of mixed farming and cattle.
“This is the 110th year that we’ve been in the home quarter,” said Darcy, who moved from mixed farming to commercial beef in 1996.
“We have predominantly Simmental bulls—we run mostly black cattle so we’re into the black Simmentals and the Black Angus.
“I’m fourth generation at the farm so maybe if we’re fortunate, our kids will pick up where we left off.”
Laurie was raised on a farm in eastern Saskatchewan and says being married to an agricultural man is just like living on her childhood farm that was a mixed grain and beef cattle operation.
She recalled her parents also tending to dairy cows at one point in time too.
“I couldn’t ask for any better life,” she said about farming.
“There’‘s always struggles in anything you do, but it’s a home base—you can raise your kids on the farm.”
She says they have certain freedoms there that they wouldn’t have anywhere else.
Laurie was also humbled receiving the award from Brian Kimmel, president of the Lloydminster Agricultural Exhibition Association and Robert Lundquist, chair of the Cattleman of the Year committee.
“Like Darcy said, the people who have gotten it before—we have a lot of respect for those people,” said Laurie.
“It’s nice to be recognized for something you do.
“We feel it’s very important raising food for other people and continuing a lifestyle and actually making a living at it.”
Laurie is also a trained animal health technician at the Lloydminster Animal Hospital.
The Eddlestons noted the beef cattle industry is not without its challenges, including a memorable drought and lack of feed in 2002 that led them to sell 400 cow/calf pairs from a herd of 700.
The following year was the infamous outbreak of BSE or mad cow disease that decimated the industry.
“So in a way, that drought helped us out of a lot of cattle, so that helped us through that very critical time in the industry,” said Darcy.
The couple would have been excused for getting out of farming during those trying times, but that’s not the Eddlestons’ way.
“We were young at the time and maybe we didn’t know what else we would do,” said Darcy.
“We made the commitment to the beef industry and we worked through that.”
It was during that time he got involved in what he calls cattle politics, working with the Alberta Beef Producers and the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency to improve the industry.
Today, he said beef farmers struggle with market access.
“The government’s done a lot of work to get better access for beef and we appreciate that,” he said.
“That’s been a struggle since BSE is getting market access—weather, and all those things become a challenge—every year’s got its own challenges.”
Beef prices have also fallen from unsustainable highs a year ago, but he said the speed of the fall has taken everyone by surprise.
“We’ve seen these prices before—the fall was a lot more sharper than what we expected a year ago,” said Darcy.

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