This national award is presented annually to a producer to recognize his or her dedication to improving the beef industry at the commercial level.

Plum Thicket Farms is a family operation with a passion for raising excellent beef cattle and improving the range and soil that are their livelihood. Located in the Nebraska panhandle, Plum Thicket calves 325 SimAngus cows and operates a small backgrounding lot.

Rex and Nancy Peterson head the cattle operation. After two tours of duty with the National Guard, their son, Patrick, came home to lead the farming operation. Patrick is passionate about improving soil health and conserving resources. His wife, Krista, is a large-animal veterinarian with a mobile practice in the area. She did a food animal internship at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and is a welcome addition to the management team.

The family purchased the core of the ranch, along with 200 Angus cows, in January 1998. Today, the farm includes 4,000 acres of native range, grazed in a rest-deferred rotational grazing system. They no-till farm 2,300 acres, including 560 acres under pivot irrigation.

Whole-herd artificial insemination has been a staple of the Plum Thicket program. From the outset, the farm has maintained detailed individual performance records that follow cattle to the rail. Nancy used this data to make bull selections and culling decisions. She has steadily improved the genetic quality of the herd.


Using annual forages, Plum Thicket's cattle live within an 11-month grazing program. The family breeds all of the heifers, selects replacements in the spring after having the first calf and sells young pairs that will likely go into a fall-calving herd. They background all of the steers on forage cocktails and swathed sorghum supplemented with dried distillers grain and often retain ownership through the feedlot.

The Nebraska Cattlemen nominated Plum Thicket Farms for the award.

More than 600 beef producers, academia and industry representatives were in attendance at the organization's 48th annual convention. BIF's mission is to help improve the industry by promoting greater acceptance of beef cattle performance evaluation.  end mark

—K-State Research and Extension news release

PHOTO: Plum Thicket Farms, Gordon, Nebraska, was named the 2016 Beef Improvement Federation Commercial Producer of the Year during an awards ceremony June 15 in Manhattan, Kansas. Pictured (left to right) are: Wes Ishmael of BEEF magazine, award sponsor; Nancy and Rex Peterson of Plum Thicket Farms; and Craig Bieber, Leola, South Dakota, retiring BIF president. Photo provided by K-State Research and Extension.