Cross Rock Ranch Ltd., a Crossfield-area farm, was recognized with Rocky View County’s (RVC) 2019 Master Farm Family award during the County’s Agricultural Tour July 25.
“I think it’s a pretty special award to receive,” said Ron Hurt, who owns and operates the farm with his wife Donna. “To be recognized with all the other families that have won it in the past – families we’ve always looked up to – to be included with some of those people, it’s pretty special.”
RVC’s Master Farm Family award has been presented annually since 1989 and, according to a July 25 press release, “recognizes RVC farm families who show excellence in the area of community involvement, team farm management, technical farm practices and agricultural business and industry involvement.”
“We are honoured to present the award to the Hurt family,” Coun. Daniel Henn, who serves as chair of RVC’s Agricultural Service Board, said in the press release, describing the family as “passionate advocates for the agricultural industry.”
According to Hurt, his family has been operating in the Crossfield area for more than 75 years – his grandparents moved to the region and began farming in 1942. Hurt and Donna began their work on the ranch in 1984, alongside Hurt’s brother Jim. The couple assumed sole control of the operation in 2007.
With Hurt’s children now active on the farm, he said, Cross Rock Ranch Ltd. – named to pay tribute to both Crossfield and Rocky View County – has been worked by four generations. After careers in Calgary in accounting and law, Hurt said his son Brad and son-in-law Graeme Ireland – along with their wives Krystal and Nicole – are now fully involved in the operation. Hurt’s youngest son Daryl and his wife Wendy also help out on the farm while holding other jobs.
Between owned and rented land, Hurt said, the farm comprises close to 4,000 acres with a herd of about 250 cows. The family also grows malt barley that has been sold to microbreweries.
RVC specifically highlighted the family’s incorporation of technology into its operations, including using drones for field scouting and checking cattle, and electric fencing to monitor feed consumption, as well as GPS and other computer programs. Hurt said using innovative farm practices was important because, “we’re producing commodities of food for the consuming public, and we want to make sure that we’re producing the best possible product we can.”
“We can show people that we’re doing things as per the book,” Hurt said. “Cattle are being tracked and traced, [and] same with our grain commodities. We can show what we did and what we didn’t do, proper use of pesticides, herbicides, all that kind of thing.”
The family is also highly involved in the community, with both Hurt and Donna contributing to various local boards and associations, including the Crossfield-Madden 4-H beef club. Hurt said community involvement was modelled by his parents, and he wants to impart the same example to his children and grandchildren.
He added he appreciated that RVC continues to recognize the contribution of local farm families, especially as urban neighbours continue to grow.
“In the rural community, we need to do as much as we can to reach out to the urban community and show them what we do and how we do it, so they can have some confidence in our products,” Hurt said. “I think anything that helps to bridge that gap is important.”