Producer of the Year
The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) presented Hinkson Angus Ranch of Cottonwood Falls, KS, the BIF Seedstock Producer of the Year Award on June 20 during the group’s annual meeting and symposium in Brookings, SD. This national award is presented annually to a producer to recognize their dedication to improving the beef industry at the seedstock level.
Today, Hinkson Angus Ranch is owned by Frank Jr. and his son, Trey, who is the fourth generation on the ranch and manages the daily operation. Hinkson Angus consists of 5,500 acres of owned and leased land, and 200 fall- and 175 spring-calving registered Angus cows. An additional 1,000 commercial heifers are purchased each year, with the majority coming from Hinkson bull customers.
Commercial Producer of the Year
Bruce and Tracey Mershon of Mershon Cattle LLC received the BIF Commercial Producer of the Year Award. This national award is presented annually to a producer to recognize their dedication to improving the beef industry at the commercial level.
Mershon Cattle LLC is a diversified crop and livestock operation headquartered on a Century Farm in Buckner, MO, northeast of Kansas City.
The Mershons have owned cattle since 1993 and launched Mershon Cattle LLC in 2012. They purchased Sunny Acres Farm in Appleton City, MO, in 2013 to expand the operation. The Mershon cow herd consists of 1,600 Angus-based, crossbred cows, which are bred to Hereford, Simmental and Charolais sires.
Jim Gibb of Louisville, CO received one of the BIF Pioneer Awards.
The award recognizes individuals who have made lasting contributions to the improvement of beef cattle, honoring those who have had a major role in acceptance of performance reporting and documentation as the primary means to make genetic change in beef cattle.
Gibb has broad experience in the cattle business and animal science. He has been a leader at two breed associations—American Polled Hereford Association and American Gelbvieh Association—served the National Livestock and Meat Board, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), founded an animal genomics company and taught beef cattle management at the University of Illinois. Gibb is also a past BIF board member.
He cofounded Frontier Beef Systems with the American Simmental Association, focusing on providing DNA testing to seedstock producers.
Jerry Wulf of Morris, MN also received the BIF Pioneer Award.
In business for more than 60 years, the Wulf operation spans across Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska, and is partners with Riverview LLP, a dairy enterprise. The operation ranks in National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Top 25 Seedstock Producers.
An industry leader in the development of expected progeny differences (EPDs) and indexes, Wulf has contributed a tremendous amount of data toward the development of the first docility EPD in the beef industry at the North American Limousin Foundation (NALF). They were some of the first to collect large quantities of feed efficiency data and worked closely with staff at NALF to produce an across-breed feed efficiency index for in-house selection and customer information.
Continuing Service Awards
Craig Bieber of Leola, SD received a BIF Continuing Service Award.
Continuing Service Award winners have made major contributions to the BIF organization. This includes serving on the board of directors, speaking at BIF conventions, working on BIF guidelines and other behind-the-scenes activities.
Bieber serves as CEO of Bieber Red Angus Ranch, managing sales and ranch activities.
An industry leader, Bieber has served in several leadership roles. He served on the BIF board of directors and was the 2015-2016 BIF president. He is also a past president of the Red Angus Association of America (RAAA) board and served on its breed improvement committee. He is a past president of the South Dakota Red Angus Association and served on the South Dakota Beef Industry Council. He currently serves on the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
Scott Greiner of Christiansburg, VA also received a BIF Continuing Service Award.
Greiner is an extension beef and sheep specialist at Virginia Tech. In this position, he provides research-based education and outreach on the science and application of beef and sheep production to livestock producers, extension agents and allied-industry professionals.
He has devoted his time to the agriculture industry by serving in various roles, including being a member of the NCBA beef production research committee, the U.S. Beef Breeds Council, Ultrasound Guidelines and numerous other organizations.
Steve Munger of Highmore, SD also received a BIF Continuing Service Award.
Munger is managing partner of Eagle Pass Ranch, which he and his wife, Debi, own in partnership with sons, Nate and AJ, and their wives. Eagle Pass Ranch has been supplying the beef industry with progressive beef genetics for more than 25 years.
Munger served on the BIF board of directors, including a term as president in 2014-2015.
“He is an early adopter of technology for the measurement of phenotypic traits and a strong supporter of beef cattle production research. He’s been a leader in selection for feed efficiency for beef cattle.” says Joe Cassady, South Dakota State University Animal Science Department professor and head.
Eric Grant of St. Joseph, MO received the BIF Ambassador Award. This award is given annually by BIF to a member of the media for his or her efforts in spreading the news of BIF and its principles to a larger audience.
With more than 30 years of experience in communications and advertising, Grant is the founder of Grant Company, which offers a unique blend of media, public relations, communications and advertising services for many clients with deep roots in agriculture, such as Merck Animal Health, Biozyme Inc. and Holstein Association USA. The company is committed to delivering superior-quality work that resonates with audiences through unmatched storytelling.
BIF presented the Baker/Cundiff Award to Madison Butler of Vincennes, IN.
The annual Frank Baker/Larry Cundiff Beef Improvement Essay Contest for graduate students provides an opportunity to recognize outstanding student research and competitive writing.
Butler is working on her master’s degree in animal breeding and genetics at Kansas State University. Her essay was titled, “Review of Genetic Studies of Bull Fertility.”
BIF also presented the Roy A. Wallace Memorial Scholarships to Benjamin Crites and Taylor Nikkel. These scholarships were established to encourage young men and women interested in beef improvement to pursue those interests.
The graduate student award was presented to Crites, Lexington, KY. He completed his master’s degree and doctorate at the University of Kentucky in reproductive physiology. Crites’ master’s project focused on incorporating gender-sorted semen into fixed-time artificial insemination protocols for beef heifers and cows
Nikkel of Maple Hill, KS is this year’s undergraduate winner. She will graduate from Kansas State University in May 2020 with a degree in agricultural economics.
During her time at K-State, Nikkel has taken opportunities to learn more about agricultural policy and law. — WLJ