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Joseph B. Graham Receives the Beef Improvement Federation's 1999 Pioneer Award

Livestock Update, July 1999

Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, Virginia Tech

Roanoke, Virginia -- The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) honored Joe Beard Graham with the Pioneer award at the 31st Annual Convention on June 18, 1999 in Roanoke, Virginia.

Joe Beard Graham was born and raised near the village of Goshen, in Rockbridge County, VA, where he currently resides and has lived most of his life. He graduated from Goshen High School in 1938, and from Virginia Tech with a degree in Animal Husbandry in 1943. His services with the US Army 1943 - 1945 took him to the Pacific where he served with the Sixth Army, and later the Ninth Corps during the occupation of Japan.

Joe Graham's career has been totally in the livestock industry. From 1947 to 1952 he managed two purebred Angus herds in Virginia before returning in 1952 to Goshen to start farming and developing a purebred Angus herd for himself. In 1954 he joined the Division of Markets of the Virginia Department of Agriculture as a Livestock Grader, and served in this capacity until 1973. From 1973 to 1975 he managed Roanoke Hollins' Stockyard at Hollins, VA served as a fieldman for Staunton Livestock Market from 1974-1986, and in a similar capacity with Staunton Union Stockyard from 1986 to present. He served as an official classifier for the American Angus Association for three years.

In 1955, the first State Beef Cattle Improvement Association in the country was organized as the Virginia Beef Cattle Improvement Association. Joe Graham was employed on a part time basis to do the field work and cattle weighing and grading on farms, with this work continuing well into the 1980's.

Joe Graham probably had more to do with getting the newly established Virginia BCIA performance testing program accepted and expanded in Virginia than any other one individual. He was looked to by breeders as "Mr. Virginia BCIA" for many years because he visited most of the farms where he weighed and graded calves and yearlings. In addition to his field work on the farms, he was a very important figure I establishing the central bull test stations at Culpeper and Red House, VA, and until about 1990, served as a grader and evaluator of bulls tested at Virginia central test stations.

The Virginia BCIA Performance Testing Program was built in large measure based on Joe Graham's expertise and cattle knowledge, and his ability to work with purebred and commercial breeders and producers. As a result the Virginia program attained wide acclaim and served as a forerunner for national breed association performance testing programs.

In August, 1947 he married Ellen Bennett, and they have a son, Joseph B. Jr., and three daughters, Ellen, Mary, and Lucy, and a total of eight grand children. Joe Graham continues to breed seedstock Angus cattle, and to teach Sunday School at the Goshen Presbyterian Church, where he is a lifelong member. His chief joys are his church, people, and livestock.

It is with great pleasure that the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) has the opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of Joe B. Graham by presenting him with the 1999 Pioneer Award.

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