This week in Denver, the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame inducted two new members, while also announcing this year’s Industry Leadership Award, presented to veterinarian Dee Griffin for his decades of passionate service to the beef industry.
Since its inception in 2009, the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame (CFHOF) has celebrated the achievements of pioneering entrepreneurs who helped build the U.S. cattle-feeding sector. In addition to two cattle-feeder inductees, the program also features an annual Industry Leadership Award to honor individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and exemplary service and made significant contributions to the advancement of cattle feeding.
This year’s honoree, Dee Griffin, DVM, is widely credited with helping found the Beef Quality Assurance program, and to this day he passionately educates producers, veterinarians and producers on animal husbandry, antibiotic stewardship, health management and other issues related to beef quality.
The BQA program began primarily in response to drug residues, which were a common problem in beef at the time. A concerted industry effort, with Griffin leading the charge, educated producers and veterinarians about antibiotic uses, dosages, extra-label use and withdrawal times. Drug residues soon became rare, but the BQA program was just getting started. The first National Beef Quality Audit, conducted in 1991, revealed significant problems with too much fat, injection-site lesions and inconsistent, often unfavorable eating quality. Again, Griffin assumed a leadership role in educating veterinarians and producers on proper injection sites, methods, dosages and other management decisions affecting beef quality.
Raised on a cow-calf operation in western Oklahoma, Griffin took an early interest in beef production, which led to his completion of his DVM degree at Oklahoma State University in 1976 and MS degree in pathology and ruminant nutrition from Purdue. Following graduation, he practiced beef-cattle medicine, mostly in feedyard settings, until taking a faculty position at the University of Nebraska’s Great Plains Veterinary Education Center (GPVEC). After 25 years at the GPVEC, Griffin retired in 2016 and assumed a new role as clinical professor and director of the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Center located at West Texas A&M University in Canyon.
Griffin credits some of his early mentors with helping foster what became the BQA philosophy. He worked for Hitch Enterprises in Oklahoma for several years, and often quotes that company’s late CEO Ladd Hitch, saying “If it is not right, make it right.” He also cites long-time Texas Cattle Feeders Chairman Richard McDonald for developing the original six summary points for BQA, which fit on a note card. “All six points were aimed at following the rules,” he says. “A rule for feeding high quality, clean, uncontaminated feed, a rule for following the labels for FDA approved medications, a rule for following USDA approved vaccines, a rule for following EPA approved pesticides, a rule for keeping records of product use and a rule for treating cattle as precious creatures from God. It doesn’t take a complicated book, just thoughtful, responsible cattle management.”
Founded in 2009, founding sponsors for the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame include Merck Animal Health, Osborn-Barr and Drovers, a Farm Journal Media publication. Learn more at CattleFeeders.org.