Cattle ranching and conservation 

By Mary Rochelle, Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership Certificate student 

This blog is part of a series from the December Arizona Immersive program of the Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership Graduate Certificate Program. Students virtually toured the state, meeting with farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs, government staff and non-profit leaders. 

“Growing up, we were always told that if you take care of the land, the land will take care of you,” said Frank Krentz, an Arizona cattle rancher. This statement rang true throughout our conversation with Frank while our class learned more about his role in conservation efforts on his family’s ranch and other ranches in Arizona. 

Frank Krentz is President of the Arizona Association of Conservation Districts

In true 2020 fashion, Frank met with our class via Zoom, as part of the Food and Farm Immersive course. While we missed the chance to see his ranch’s southwest vistas and rambling livestock, he helped paint a picture of his ranch’s role in conservation efforts on the arid landscape. “We have installed six solar operations to pull water out of wells to support cattle and wildlife around here,“ said Krentz continuing, “we’ve also installed wildlife escape routes on our stock tanks so birds or animals can get in and out of the water.” Additionally, the Krentzes have put a conservation easement on their property to protect the land into the future. Some of the Krentz Ranch conservation efforts have been in partnership with NRCS programs that provide a financial incentive for them. But other efforts are implemented without the financial backing of federal programs. “There’s things that you just put in because it’s right,” said Krentz. “Some wildlife escape ramps that we put on aren’t funded but we are putting the equipment in any way, so we might as well do it on them all.” 

The Krentz Ranch started in 1907 and Frank is a 5th generation rancher. While his forefathers were butchers by trade in St. Louis in the 1800s, when they moved west (before Arizona was established as a state), they began raising buffalo and cattle, a tradition that Frank continues to this day. In addition to running the family ranch with his mother, uncle, aunt, and cousins, Frank serves as President of the Arizona Association of Conservation Districts and is a Supervisor on the Whitewater Draw Natural Resource Conservation District. He has also served on the local school board, among other community organizations. As part of his involvement, he regularly meets with state and national legislators to advocate for ranchers and conservation efforts. “Water is always a big thing (we discuss), but will get bigger in future years,” says Krentz. “Like they say, whiskey’s for drinking and water’s for fighting over.” 

In addition to meeting with representatives on water issues and to advocate for continued funding of farm and conservation programs, Frank emphasizes the importance of sharing knowledge and resources within the ranching community. “For example, there’s a drought payment that ranchers can receive, but the problem that is not every producer in the area knows how to sign up for that. They can have drought conditions and have to sell their operations because they didn’t get the help they need because they didn’t know it was there,” said Krentz. “Everyone I talk to, I encourage them to get involved, that’s what conservation districts are there for.” At 37 years old, Frank Krentz is an impressive example of the role that younger generations can play in the agriculture industry. His conservation efforts on his own property in addition to his advocacy and community engagement works serve as a bright example that our whole class was able to learn from during our session. On behalf of the entire ASU Food Policy and Sustainability Cohort, I would like to extend our sincere appreciation to Frank Krentz and his family for giving us the opportunity to learn more about cattle ranching and conservation in AZ.