Established in 1991 by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to recognize outstanding land stewards in the cattle industry, ESAP is generously sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation.
Operated by the Smith family, which consists of Lynn and Joy, son Seth and his wife Etta, SFI, Inc., is in the heart of the Upper Raccoon River watershed, where Lynn Smith’s family settled in 1886. Lynn began farming at SFI, Inc. in 1971 with Seth, following in his footsteps in 2001. Today, the farm consists of 1,900 acres of row crops, 510 acres of pasture, a 500 head feeder-to-finish hog barn, 210 cow-calf pairs and a 2,200 head feedlot.
SFI, Inc., is located in the drainages, which were targeted by the 2015 Des Moines Water Works lawsuit, which blamed farmers for high nitrate levels in the water. The suit has since been dismissed, but even before the suit the Smiths were focusing on efforts to improve water quality. The Smiths have surpassed regulations to build a double containment system for fuel and feedlot manure. The system has kept containments from streams, even when a tornado opened a valve.