Robert C. Peterson, Indiana Beef Cattle Association President Donnie Lawson and Robert C. Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Sam Washburn (from left) show off the plaque that is awarded annually to an individual who has made a lifelong impact on the beef industry.
Robert C. Peterson, Indiana Beef Cattle Association President Donnie Lawson and Robert C. Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Sam Washburn (from left) show off the plaque that is awarded annually to an individual who has made a lifelong impact on the beef industry.

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Individuals who have dedicated their lives to agriculture and farming generally don’t do it for the recognition, but rather their passion for the industry.

However, commodity groups sometimes will honor an outstanding producer who has spent their majority of their life striving to make a difference for the betterment of the industry, which is exactly why the Indiana Beef Cattle Association annually hands out the Robert C. Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award.

Joe Moore, the executive vice president for the IBCA, noted that Peterson, the namesake for the award, is an icon in the Indiana beef industry.

For several years, Peterson ran Lynnwood Farms for Purdue University and played an instrumental role in the development of the IBCA, which is why the group felt it was fitting to create a lifetime achievement award in his honor, Moore said.

This year, the IBCA chose Sam Washburn to receive this distinguished award.

“His impact to the Indiana beef industry over the years has not only been in the state, but national and international,” Moore said.

Washburn, however, attributes his success to getting started at a younger age than most producers, while living longer at the same time.

He noted that many producers usually don’t find their niche on their operation until they are around 60, but he started getting heavily involved with both sheep and cattle in Indiana during his 30s.

When Washburn first started farming, he recalled, he primarily was focused on sheep and his lamb feeder lots, but when the market for feeder lambs started to change in 1976, his operation transitioned to a 100-percent cattle feeder lot.

He had around 2,500 yearling heifers, but since the cows were for feeder lot purposes, the animals constantly were coming and going on his farm.

During the ‘90s, the cattle feed lot industry experienced the same thing the lamb feed lot market went through several years earlier, Washburn said, which was that farmers were selling the smaller herds for bigger ones and pulling cattle off of pastures to switch them to high-energy ration feed.

Besides his involvement in production agriculture, he also has played a key role in not only the IBCA, but also the National Beef Cattlemen’s Association, and through the organizations, he had the opportunity to serve on various committees, along with participating in some international programs, as well.