Jun 29, 2015

In the rugged, beautiful hills of Eastern Oregon, Cory Carman runs her family’s cattle ranch along with her husband. The ranch, near the town of Wallowa, has been a fixture for four generations in Cory’s family. Their roots run deep in the northwest. Beer drinkers might recognize the name of her great-great uncle, one Henry Weinhard.

“I grew up on the ranch. Some of my earliest memories are of being out with the cattle,” she says. “I love that my kids are getting to share those same great experiences.”

Carman Ranch focuses on healthy, natural practices for their cattle. Cattle are raised without antibiotics or hormones and eat grass on the range. Healthy cattle are only one part of her wider vision.

“I spend as much time thinking about soil and grass as I do about livestock. Raising cattle is a more than two year process from pasture to market and there are many opportunities to reduce our impact. Through careful study of the science, we ensure our decisions seek to reduce pollution, add nutrients to the soil, and grow healthier cattle,” she says.

Cory’s uncle talks about the changing weather patterns and how uncommon summer rain has become. This year, more than 80 percent of our state was in severe or extreme drought by the start of summer.

“On our ranch, we depend on clean, plentiful water and healthy soil for our livestock to thrive,” Cory says. “Our family has owned this ranch for four generations. Mine is the first to feel the effects of a changing climate with milder winters and hotter, drier summers.”

A changing climate is threatening our way of life in Oregon. Less snowpack from mild winters means lower nutrition in grass and less abundant drinking water for cattle. Cory is part hardscrabble farm kid and part Stanford-educated environmental scientist. She assesses opportunities for ranchers to reduce emissions and works to make her operation part of the solution by taking carbon out of the air and packing it into the soil.

“We do our part by rotating grazing land, growing perennial grasses and emphasizing soil health and carbon sequestration in our management. These practices actually make the environment healthier and our business stronger at the same time.”

It’s a big job to feed the world. Cory is proving that through applying proven practices, we can achieve a balance of successful outcome and preservation for everyone.