Commercial Producer of the Year

The Iowa Cattlemen's Association annually honors an outstanding commercial cattle producer. Your nominations are critical to recognize those individuals who "give their all" to make our industry the best it can be.

Any producer member of the ICA in good standing with current paid membership (either individual or family) may be nominated for this award by any ICA member or county association in good standing.

Judging will be based on the nomination form. Management practices, involvement in the industry, and achievements among other credentials will be considered in determining a winner. The individual being nominated may fill out the application. Nominations are due to [email protected] by November 1, 2023.

The winners are recognized at the Iowa Cattle Industry Leadership Summit in December. We are very proud of the contributions made by the producers in our industry. This is an opportunity to recognize them both personally and professionally.

Please complete the nomination form online at the link below. If you'd prefer a hard copy, click here to download the nomination form that can be printed, filled out, and mailed in.

 Nomination Form 

"We strive to be progressive producers, active members in our community, focused in our faith, and conscious of our responsibility to our environment." - Curtis Claeys

2018 Outstanding Commercial Producer of the Year

Curtis and Diane Claeys, Belgian Acres, DeWitt

"Our farm started out with a first generation farmer doing what he loved and following a dream. 

Our cattle operation started out in the early 2000s as we found ourselves being transitioned out of the dairy heifer growing industry. We had plenty of pasture and needed to do something with it. So we started buying cows from the local sale barns. As time went on and we found ourselves with more pasture to put more cows on, we realized we probably should begin buying breeding age heifers rather than bred cows. We purchased our first set of heifers and Kendall, who had recently been trained, artificially inseminated them that summer. About this time, we also started backgrounding a couple hundred calves a year, buying them in small groups, having them green tagged and selling them locally on special sales."

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"Treat the land like a piece of borrowed equipment, return it in better shape than you received it."

 - Myron Guge


Belgian Acres

dewitt, IA

Curtis and Diane Claeys' farm started from nothing but determination and sweat equity. It has had ups and downs as it transitioned away from swing production, to dairy steer calves, to dairy heifer replacements, and finally to beef production.

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Hibbs Farms

Albion, IA

Jeff and Christy Hibbs have their hands full with their farm, The Market off Main, in Albion. But their passion for the industry and the opportunity to see their product through to the end makes each piece of the full-circle operation worth it.

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Walking L Ranch

Greenville, IA

Lyle and Linda Kenobbie have owned and operated Walking L Ranch, a commercial breeding herd of 150 cows and row crops for more than 47 years.  Since the 1980's farm crisis, Walking L Ranch has been growing and expanding.

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Larry Johnson

maquoketa, IA

Larry and his wife, Mary Lou, run a diversified operation focusing on cow-calf and finishing cattle, as well as maintaining around 2,500 acres of corn, soybeans, hay and pasture ground. Larry's love for cattle and the beef industry began at a very young age, growing up on his family's farm

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Russell Cook

Mechanicsville, IA

Russell Cook, who has raised cattle for more than 38 years, now has 225 cows in his commercial breeding herd on the family-owned cow-calf and grain farm southwest of Mechanicsville in Cedar County.

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Amstutz Cattle Inc.

bloomfield, IA

Aaron Amstutz is indicative of the new faces Iowa is seeing in its commercial cattle producers. They are younger, and are using newer tools offered through production technology and modern cattle facilities. 

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Previous Winners

2018 - Curtis Claeys, DeWitt
2017 - Jeff and Christy Hibbs, Albion
2016 - Lyle and Linda Kenobbie, Greenville
2015 - Larry Johnson, Maquoketa
2014 - Russell Cook, Mechanicsville
2013 - Aaron Amstutz, Bloomfield

2012 - Lee Faris, Mount Ayr
2007 - Jack Giltner, Elliott
2005 - Keith VanWaardhuizen, Oskaloosa
2004 - Martin Green, Grand Mound
2003 - CHIPS Organization
2002 - Craig White, Estherville
1996 - Dave Petty, Eldora

How to nominate

Iowa is home to many outstanding commercial cattle producers who value the land, provide great care for their cattle, and work every day to improve their operation and the cattle industry as a whole. 

Know someone who fits this description? Nominate them today! 


The Iowa Cattlemen's Association honors an outstanding commercial cattle producer. Any person may be nominated by an eligible producer for this award.


There is no limit on number of entries.
  • A nomination form shall be submitted based on the entrant's involvement in the beef cattle industry. Candidates are nominated by completing the form below.
  • A minimum of 3 years in the cattle business.
  • Any entrant may win the State Award only one time; other entries will remain in consideration for a three-year period.


Judging will be based on management practices, involvement in the industry, and achievements amongst other credentials will be considered in determining a winner.


Realizing the nomination forms somewhat limit your comments, we would encourage you to send any photographs, newspaper clippings, letters of recommendation, etc. with this nomination form.

Entry forms may be submitted at any time but they must be sent to the Iowa Cattlemen's Association by November 1.  Any form received AFTER that date is ineligible for this year.

Download a nomination form