Past Award Winners

2016 Beef Quality Assurance Cow-Calf Award 

Masonic Village Farm, Pennsylvania

Masonic Villages is a full continuum of retirement living, personal care, and nursing services which serves more than 1,500 residents.  Masonic Village Farm raises 180 cow-calf pairs, and farms about 600 acres of land.  Throughout the history of the farming operation, their primary goal and focus has been to economically produce high quality agricultural products while protecting and enhancing the natural resources through conservation measures and sound best management practices through BQA.  

2016 Beef Quality Assurance Feedyard Award 

Nodaway Valley Feeders, Iowa

Nodaway Valley Feeders is a progressive, family-owned commercial feedyard located in Southwest Iowa.  About one-third to half of the cattle at Nodaway Valley Feeders are personally owned or owned in partnership with other producers with the rest being custom-fed.  Through implementation of BQA practices this family’s commitment is to protect, defend, promote, and enhance the product integrity of beef. 

2016 Beef Quality Assurance Marketer Award 

Samson, Inc., Nebraska

Samson, Inc. started as a family farm and feedyard that has blended traditional agriculture production with agricultural services towards a goal of increasing opportunities through value-added services and networks.  The Samson Veterinary Quality Assurance program is a combination health and management program for beef cattle with the goal of providing healthy calves that have been humanely handled and will perform to the cattle’s maximum potential for the next owner and ultimately provide a safe, high quality beef product to consumers. 

2016 Dairy Beef Quality Assurance Award

Brook-Corner, LLC, Pennsylvania

Brook-Corner, LLC currently milks 340 Registered Holsteins and owns an additional 400 head of young stock on their farm in addition to farming 130 acres of crops to sustain the cattle.  Brook-Corner, LLC holds themselves to a very high standard and accountability of cattle care and expects their employees to fulfill those very same duties and standards.  Employees are trained by one of the owners to ensure they understand the BQA best management practices and other daily procedures.  The farm and the cows are the Hoover’s livelihood and legacy, and they only wish to be the best care takers possible in order to produce high quality meat and milk.

2016 Beef Quality Assurance Educator Award

Lisa Pederson, North Dakota

Since before she began her role as a BQA Specialist for North Dakota State University, Lisa was an advocate for doing things right.  Sher learned that from the family ranch she grew up on in Colorado.  Her expertise and outreach include management and animal health practices on beef carcass quality, cattle stewardship and handling, and implementing beef quality assurance practices on beef and dairy cattle operations.  Her efforts have reached thousands of youth and adults with the BQA message.

2015 BQA Award: Cow-Calf

Ira and Kim Brackett
Brackett Ranches
California and Idaho

Brackett Ranches, owned by Ira and Kim Brackett and their children, is a fifth generation family cow-calf and stocker ranch that runs approximately 1,500 mother cows along with 2,500 yearlings. Brackett Ranches is committed to improving working facilities that create a low-stress, more cattle-friendly working environment. They are stringent on requiring and encouraging their employees to become BQA certified, implement and follow a variety of conservation practices, and have invested in the improvements that reflect a moral and ethical responsibility when working with cattle. Animal stress reduction enhances immune response to vaccinations, which results in an increase in effectiveness of their health management program.

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2015 BQA Award: Feedyard

Bill and Nancy Couser
Couser Cattle Company
Nevada, Iowa

Couser Cattle Company is a progressive, privately owned commercial cattle feeding operation, finishing approximately 10,000 head of cattle each year.   The Couser Family has a multi-use Feedlot Learning Center space for training and educating employees, producers, veterinary students, FFA and 4-H groups on how to effectively implement BQA practices.  The Couser Cattle Company mission is committed to BQA, Animal Care and Environmental Stewardship by conserving, educating and enhancing their community through the production and use of renewable and sustainable resources.

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2015 Dairy Quality Assurance Award

Tim and Maria Forry
Oregon Dairy Farm
Lititz, Pennsylvania

Run as a family partnership, the Oregon Dairy Farm includes 500 milking cows and 500 replacements with forages for their cows grown on approximately 900 acres of land.  The Oregon Dairy strongly believes that a healthy and comfortable cow will be the most productive.  High quality animal care based on BQA practices is a standard on their farm, and employees are trained and certified in BQA.   Oregon Dairy hosts a number of educational events throughout the year, teaching students and adults on how to care for their cows and the land while promoting BQA practices and awareness.  BQA helps promote a positive image for the beef and dairy industry and Oregon Dairy is proud to be part of the Beef Quality Assurance Program.

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2015 BQA Award: Marketer

Joe Wright
Knoxville Regional Livestock Market

Knoxville Regional Livestock Market places a strong emphasis on proper employee training and communication through BQA employee meetings and certification, low-stress cattle handling seminars, and promotion of BQA through the auction market, online and with FFA and 4-H clubs.  When loading cattle from the auction market, appropriate stocking rates are followed and adjusted for certain environmental conditions using BQA guidelines.  By understanding that animal care and raising cattle go hand-in-hand and by treating animals the right way, they have set the stage to produce high-quality, safe and wholesome beef.

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2015 BQA Award: Educator of the Year

Dr. Dan Thomson
Kansas State University

Dr. Dan Thomson, Director of the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University, has managed the development of a system for delivering online BQA training and certification through animalcaretraining.org.   His enthusiasm for the BQA program through personal presentations to ranchers, cattle feeders, beef processors, retailers and restaurateurs and through the digital, web-based medium, has contributed to a dramatic increase in industry-wide awareness, acceptance and adoption of BQA as the training tool of choice for ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of beef and the health and welfare of beef animals.

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2014 BQA Award

Mike & Anne Wirtz
TZ Cattle Company
Brenham, TX

TZ Cattle Company, owned by Mike and Anne Wirtz, is an integrated cow-calf operation. The base herd is purebred Santa Gertrudis.   Calves are pre-conditioned using a modified Vac-45 program, raised on grass to 800 pounds, then sent to the feedlot and sold on the grid or contracted on a natural program. 

The BOA program, when done properly, enhances the carcass value due to low sickness and no blemishes in the beef itself.  Safe handling techniques reduce stress, help gain, and reduce bruising. This helps to produce a quality product to ensure consumer demand due to an excellent dining experience.

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2014 Dairy BQA Award

Keith York
Merry-Water Farms
Lake Geneva, WI

Merry-Water farms is a family farm which began in 1950.  The dairy farm has 1,350 cows with 1,250 replacement heifers and 200 young steers. All employees are trained in moving cattle without causing stress. This is done by training on the farm or at presentations or classes that go over best handling techniques.  “The well-being of our animals is one of the top priorities for our farm,” Keith says. “If we take care of our animals they will take care of us.

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2014 BQA Marketer Award

Dell King
King Livestock Co., Inc.
Hopkinsville, KY

King Livestock Company, founded in 1967, is family-owned and operated.  Dell helped develop the BOA Master Cattle Transporter Guide by meeting with other cattle trucking companies, appearing in transportation videos instructing proper loading techniques and also he developed a loading card for the truck drivers to use in distributing cattle properly onto the cattle trailers. He consistently appraises most of the load-lot cattle for sale, and is on load out day to sort the cattle and load the trucks.  He handles his cattle with solid BQA practices.

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2014 BQA Educator of the Year Award

Dr. Clyde Lane
University of Tennessee

Dr. Clyde Lane has served as the Tennessee BQA Coordinator since 1999. He was responsible for implementing the Tennessee BOA Program which has trained 18,000 individuals. He has worked on a regional basis to develop regional BQA training materials, vaccine and antibiotic bags used to transport vaccines and antibiotics from point of purchase to the farm.  He served on the committee to develop the National BOA Guidelines, presented to guidelines and guided their passage by the State Coordinators. 


Dr. Lane's enthusiasm for the BOA program plus his involvement in the program has resulted in his ability to get large numbers of producers to apply Beef Quality Assurance practices.

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2013 BQA Award

The Kempfer Family
Kempfer Cattle Co.
Dee Park, FL

Kempfer Cattle Company is a commercial cow/calf and seed stock operation. The commercial operation consists of a 3 way cross of Brahman, Angus, and Shorthorn cattle with Charolais bulls used for a terminal cross. A minimum of ¼ Brahman blood is maintained in all cows to aid in maximizing production as they are less affected by flood, drought, heat and parasites. They are currently running 2,500 commercial cows with 280 replacement heifers. An additional 300 replacement are raised annually for sale. Their registered Brahman herd consists of 125 head.

The ranch has been in business since 1895 and the sixth generation is now growing up and beginning to help work the land. All family members have their own cattle; they have 29 different ear marks and brands on the ranch. All employees are family and have a deep love for the land and the animals.

Promoting BQA to other producers is important to the Kempfers. They do encourage other producers to have a BQA program. We all produce the same product and we don’t need poor management to turn people away from eating Beef. They are charter members of the Florida Heritage Beef, LLC group which is a coallition of progressive ranchers. Eight ranchers are represented. One of the benefits of the group is the collaboration of management practices and ideas for enhancing beef production. They raise the most wholesome, tasty supply of protein in the world, but we keep in mind there is always room for improvement.

2013 Dairy BQA Award 

Woody Larson
Family Tree Enterprises
Okeechobee, FL

The operation now consists of three dairy farms with 4,600 adult cows and 3,000 replacement females on 3,100 acres.BQA has been important from the start. The veterinarian and Woody have been the main educators as they continually train their people at the various farms. In addition, they have outside trainers come onsite and they encourage their herdsmen to attend specialized workshops, such the Florida Beef Council-sponsored Dairy BQA trainings for Spanish-speaking employees.Other innovations in their business include reworking there cattle handling facilities by installing some used rubber belting on the fences and chutes to help prevent bruising and injury. Their floors are grooved and gates positioned to avoid tight turns.Woody has always been interested in animal behavior. He's been a Temple Grandin fan for years and has applied many of her concepts in the operation but training for proper cattle handling is never ending: train, train, train. He won’t tolerate rough treatment or injury.

2013 BQA Marketer Award  

Larry Schnell
Stockmen's Livestock Exchange
Dickinson, ND

Larry Schnell is owner and manager of Stockmen’s Livestock Exchange in Dickinson, North Dakota. Stockmen’s Livestock Exchange was founded 1937 as Schnell's Dickinson Livestock Sales Company, founded by Ray Schnell. Through the years, Schnell's Livestock built their reputation on selling quality livestock at top prices. In 1977, the name was changed to Stockmen's Livestock Exchange Inc.


When Larry Schnell saw the need for improved cattle handling and Beef Quality Assurance practices in the livestock marketing industries, he talked to North Dakota BQA coordinator Lisa Pederson about working on an educational program to meet that need. Focal Point-An Auction Market Quality Assurance Guide was submitted and accepted as a National Beef Quality Assurance Pilot Project. This program was developed to help educate auction market employees about Beef Quality Assurance Practices and cattle handling skills. Larry took an active role in the development of the program and in promotion of the program within the livestock marketing community. Without Larry’s “footwork” within the Livestock Marketing Association, it is doubtful the Focal Points DVD would have been as successful and accepted within the industry as it was. The project became a true partnership between the Livestock Marketing Association and the Beef Quality Assurance program. The DVD has been so widely accepted a copy is in every auction market in the United States and the DVD has been dubbed in Spanish.

2013 BQA Educator of the Year Award  

Dr. John Maas
UC Davis

From the local level to the national level, John Maas, is an integral part of Beef Quality Assurance. While serving in multiple cattle health and quality assurance leadership capacities for the California Cattlemen’s Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Dr. Maas is known throughout the beef community for his passion in the BQA arena. 

Dr. Maas has helped coordinate state, regional and national BQA curriculum for California dairy, feedyard and cow/calf BQA programs and has always been willing to travel extensively to ensure that producers and their employees have access to these educational programs. In addition to being on the front lines as a BQA advocate, trainer and program developer, Dr. Maas also works to educate people outside of BQA training programs. He is a long time member of NCBA’s Quality Assurance Advisory Board and is currently Chair of NCBA’s Producer Education which oversees BQA as well as other programs.

In addition to educating producers about BQA, Dr. Maas is a strong spokesperson for the beef industry. Dr. Maas has often represented CCA and NCBA in the media arena and has testified on behalf of cattlemen on legislative and regulatory issues. Beef Quality Assurance is something that Dr. Maas believes in and shares with cattle producers of all ages as well as with the public in general.

The beef industry would be hard-pressed to find a stronger advocate for BQA than John Maas. In regards to his efforts to reach out to the public, Dr. Maas is always willing to speak to the media about the positive aspects of the beef industry. In speaking with news media, Dr. Maas often shares the various things that producers do to ensure they provide only the best care for their stock – this always includes education and the BQA program. 

2012 BQA Award  

Wayne Fahsholtz
Padlock Ranch
Ranchester, WY

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. 

2012 Dairy BQA Award  

Logan Bower
Pleasant View Farms
Blain, PA

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.

2012 BQA Marketer Award  

Morris Larson
Spencer Livestock Sales
Spencer, IA

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.”

2012 BQA Educator of the Year Award  

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.

2011 BQA Award  

Mike Milicevic
Lykes Bros.
Okeechobee, FL

Lykes Ranch is a cow-calf operation located in Lake Okeechobee, FL, that encompasses 337,000 acres and is one of the largest contiguous pieces of land in the state. The property is a tapestry of farmland, forest and pastures, woven together with wetlands, and wildlife corridors. The Ranch includes integrated cow-calf, forestry, turf and sugar cane production. The ranch was started over 100 years ago by Dr. Howell Tyson Lykes when he left a career in medicine to begin raising cattle and citrus at the family homestead. Today, managed by Mike Milicevic, Lykes Bros. Inc. is still family owned and continues to build on the foundation laid by previous generations. With more than 17,500 head of cattle, the Lykes Ranch is currently the 4th largest cow/calf operation in the U.S. Mike believes that in addition to superior genetics and herd health programs, their BQA program is the key to the success of the operation.

2011 Dairy BQA Award  

John Ligo
LiTerra Farm
Grove City, PA

John Ligo is the co-owner of LiTerra Farm, located in Grove City, Pennsylvania along with wife Judy. Originally founded in 1988, LiTerra Farm includes 230 milking cows as well as 180 homebred dairy replacements. John also owns a beef cow-calf enterprise as well as a registered seedstock operation. John focuses on using his resources efficiently to produce a wholesome product and be environmentally responsible. John is also active in numerous organizations that support Beef Quality Assurance and has been a strong public role model for BQA.

2010 BQA Award  

Jim Warren
101 Livestock, Inc.
Aromas, CA

101 Livestock, Inc., is a livestock auction market located in Aromas, CA that predominantly sells beef cattle at public auctions which are held 50 weeks per year.  Jim Warren originally leased the facility in 1975.  At that time, the business had two full time employees and sold about 5,000 cattle annually.  Today there are 12 full time employees and up to 60,000 cattle are sold each year.  Beginning in 1985 and finishing in 1991 Jim and his employees completely redesigned and modernized 101 Livestock.  By using common sense along with input from recognized cattle handling and facility design experts; Jim and his crew where able to create an auction market that excels in terms of cattle handling and cattle comfort. 

2010 Dairy BQA Award

Phoebe Bitler
Vista Grande Farm
Fleetwood, PA

Phoebe Bitler is the co-owner of Vista Grande Farms along with husband David and their son Jesse. Originally founded in 1937 by Phoebe’s parents, Vista Grande Farm is a Registered Holstein dairy operation with 100 milking cows as well as 150 replacement females that the Bitler’s develop for them and for neighboring dairies.  Phoebe helps manage the day-to-day operations and focuses much attention on maximizing cow comfort through regular hoof trimming, water beds, and by using tunnel ventilation in their barns.  Vista Grande Farm is located in a densely populated county in southeastern Pennsylvania right next to a heavily traveled road which has created some challenges but also provides the opportunity to showcase a tidy farmstead, along with clean and well cared for animals to the consuming public. 

2009 BQA Award

Anne Burkholder
Will Feed, Inc.
Cozad, NE

In 1997, Anne Burkholder graduated from Dartmouth College and moved to Cozad, NE with her husband, Matt, to run the family feedyard that Matt’s father started in the early 1970’s.  Anne is now the owner, head cowboy, feeding foreman, environmental steward and marketing manager.  Over the years, Burkholder began to analyze what her “small” feedyard niche was going to be.  She went to work finding producers who are interested in the data and insight Burkholder can offer by tracking their calves through the feedyard and into the packing plant.  Will Feed Inc. is very focused on implementing BQA in every aspect of the feedyard.  Anne ensures that her pharmaceutical reps, nutritionist and anyone else contributing to the operation are BQA certified. 

2009 Dairy BQA Award

Jim Docheff
Diamond D Dairy
Longmont, CO

Jim Docheff is a fourth generation dairy farmer milking 600 cows, with a mix of Holstein, Brown Swiss and Jerseys. With a combination of an ever-changing consumer mindset demanding locally grown products and their close proximity to the booming front range of Colorado, the family developed a plan to become a more successful dairy enterprise by directly merchandising milk and milk products through a home delivery system and to wholesale customers.  The dairy’s goal is to produce a natural, healthy and high quality product that consumers can have confidence in and prides itself on its animal care practices.  With this in mind, one of the policies we have embraced is an open door invitation to anyone who would like to come and see the day-to-day operations on the dairy. 

The National BQA Award recognizes outstanding beef, marketer and dairy producers that best demonstrate animal care and handling principles as part of the day-to-day activities on their respective operations.  A common trait among all contest entrants must be a strong desire to continually improve BQA on their operations while encouraging others to implement the producer education program.

National BQA award winners are selected by a committee of representatives from universities, state beef councils and affiliated groups.  Nominations can be submitted by any organization, group, or individual on behalf of a U.S. beef producer.  Individuals and families may not nominate themselves, however, the nominees are expected to be involved in the preparation of the application. 

Four National BQA Awards (Beef Cow-Calf and Feedyard, Dairy, and Marketer) are funded in part by The Beef Checkoff program with additional financial support provided by Cargill Meat Solutions.  The program promotes beef quality assurance in all segments of the industry, including commercial cow-calf, seedstock, stocker operators, feedlots and dairy operations.

The BQA Educator Award is sponsored in part by The Beef Checkoff program with additional financial support provided by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica.