This week, two producers were honored with the checkoff's annual national Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) award and Dairy Beef Quality Assurance (DBQA) award, created to recognize outstanding beef and dairy producers from across the country who incorporate BQA principles as part of the day-to-day activities on their operations. And for the first time, one individual was recognized with the BQA Marketer Award, which was open to livestock markets, cattle buyers and supply-chain programs that promote BQA to their customers and offer them opportunities to get certified; and one individual received the BQA Educator Award, which was open to individuals or companies that provide high quality and innovative training to individuals that care and handle cattle throughout the industry chain.
2012 winners were Wayne Fahsholtz, Padlock Ranch of Ranchester, Wyo. (beef); Logan Bower, Pleasant View Farms of Blain, Pa. (dairy); Morris Larson, General Manager of Spencer Livestock Sales, Spencer, Iowa (Marketer of the Year); and Dr. Dee Griffin, University of Nebraska, Lincoln of Lincoln, Neb. (Educator of the Year).
Wayne Fahsholtz, Padlock Ranch
Today, headquartered out of Dayton, Wyo. (just north of Sheridan), Padlock Ranch raises over 11,000 calves a year on nearly 500,000 acres across Wyoming and Montana. Calves are born in May and June and then weaned in the fall in Padlock's feedlot in Wyoming. Calves are grown to yearling weights on silage and hay produced on Padlock's 7,000-acre farm. Corn and distillers grains are purchased to augment the growing program when needed. In the spring, calves enter one of the following marketing strategies: 1) placed on feed in a finishing yard (retained ownership); 2) sold as yearlings, 3) placed on grass as stocker cattle; 4) placed on a finishing program in Padlock's feedlot. In recent years, the majority of feeder cattle have been marketed through Country Natural Beef (CNB).
Padlock Ranch is a profit-driven business which places importance on environmental stewardship, community support (both local and the broader community), and hiring/developing excellent people. A foundational goal is to use Best Management Practices throughout the life of an animal to enhance performance, health, beef quality, and ultimately profitability. The Ranch takes a systems approach in developing and implementing these management practices and has coupled these practices with a marketing plan.
Wayne encourages other producers to implement BQA programs by: 1) leading by example; 2) being proactive advocates of BQA practices to our customers, business associates, and the larger community that we deal with regularly; 3) continuing to tell the story through lectureships, symposiums, and publications to reach those in the industry; 4) remaining active in the cattle industry through membership and participation.
Logan Bower, Pleasant View Farms
The dairy operation of Pleasant View Farms is comprised of 550 milk cows, which produce in excess of 13 million pounds of milk annually. Also, Pleasant View Farms raises 550 herd replacements to support the milking herd. The forage needs for the 1, 1 00 head of dairy animals are raised on 750 acres of cropland, of which 150 are owned and 600 are rented. The current crop rotation consists of 450 acres of com for silage, 100 acres of alfalfa hay, 50 acres of small grain and 150 acres in grass and pasture.
As a dairy producer, it has always been Logan's goal to utilize resources as efficiently and as responsibly as possible to produce a high quality, wholesome product. Extra attention to animal care and stewardship always haves returned great rewards to Pleasant View Farms, both in the sense of productivity and high quality products.
As in most confinement dairy operations, two big management challenges have always been mastitis and lameness. Pleasant View Farms enrolled in a program with a supplier to evaluate the milking parlor regularly for proper performance and update equipment, as new technologies are developed. Logan also coordinates milker trainings for employees to ensure proper milking procedures, thus reducing the risk of mastitis. In December 2010, old worn out free stall mattresses were replaced with a softer, more durable material to enhance cow comfort not only in the short term but also for the long term.
Morris Larson, Spencer Livestock Sales
Morris has been at Spencer Livestock Sales since 2001 and served as General Manager since 2004. He continuously strives to improve BQA practices at the auction market, to better educate himself, his employees and area livestock producers about the benefits of implementing BQA practices on the farm and provides guidance to others in animal care and welfare.
When it comes to the proper handling of livestock, no one does it better than the staff at Spencer Livestock Sales -- cattle are handled with as little stress as possible. And, employees continue to be educated weekly on how to handle livestock so that injuries are eliminated. His tolerance policy on injured livestock from human handling is "zero".
One nominator says this of Morris: "Morris is a leader in holding educational seminars for cattlemen on everything from BQA certification, animal handling to source and age verification. He donates the use of the auction market for 4-H & FFA weigh-ins and educational programs. His dedication to our youth, and to helping area producers add value to their cattle through an increased knowledge of cattle handling techniques and new technology, is a model for all of us. The beef industry in northwest Iowa is better today because of his commitment to beef producers, and will be better in the future because of his commitment to our youth."
Dr. Dee Griffin, University of Nebraska
Dr. Dee Griffin has been a BQA Certified Trainer in Nebraska and served on Nebraska's BQA Advisory Board since the program's inception in 1987. He started the first "Train the Trainer" sessions in Nebraska and has traveled from one end of the state to the other educating BQA Trainers. Dee has single-handedly trained 250 BQA Trainers in Nebraska and has personally certified over 1,000 producers.
One nominator says of Dee: "In the early 1980s, the beef industry realized a need for Beef Quality Assurance. Dr. Griffin was one of the pioneers that helped that idea become a reality. Dr. Griffin volunteered his time and resources to help develop the BQA standards and program. Dr. Griffin never gave up, and to this day he continues to help educate, advise and promote Beef Quality Assurance."
The National BQA award winners are selected annually by a committee of representatives from universities, state beef councils and cattle industry groups.
Watch videos of each producer BQA award winner on the BQA YouTube page.
For more information about the beef checkoff or BQA program, visit www.bqa.org, www.dbqa.org or www.MyBeefCheckoff.com.
The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.