Hands named Kansas Stockman of the Year

Sam Hands, Garden City, Kansas, is the 2018 Kansas Stockman of the Year. He was honored at the recent 48th Annual Stockmen’s Dinner in Manhattan.

During the award presentation, industry friends and his family recognized Sam for his contributions to the beef industry. Speakers described him as a leader, innovator and friend of Kansas State University, K-State Animal Sciences and Industry department and the Livestock and Meat Industry Council.

Larry Corah, KSU professor emeritus, called Sam “oil in the can,” recalling how Don Good described Sam when Corah started at K-State. “Dr. Good believed Sam was one of the really good young producers at the time and that he was going to make a big impact on the beef industry. There’s no doubt he had it exactly right.”

A fourth-generation cattleman, Sam began his career in the beef industry in 1957 by purchasing 12 bred Angus heifers with his dad, Fielding. While attending Kansas State University, Sam served as a state FFA officer and received the American Farmer Degree. He was a member of the meat, wool and livestock judging teams, Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and Block & Bridle. In December 1970, he graduated with a degree in animal sciences and industry with a business option.

In May of 1973, he returned to the family operation, known as Triangle H, after serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army and a tour in Vietnam.

Today, Triangle H has two farm feedyards and primarily markets its cattle through U.S. Premium Beef, which they invested in as a founding member. Over the years, Triangle H has performed custom heifer breeding projects, developed breeding bulls, backgrounding and finishing cattle. The farm produces irrigated corn, soybeans, grain sorghum, wheat and alfalfa in Finney, Kearney and Haskell counties with grassland in Clark County. The cow-calf portion of the operation has expanded into satellite herds throughout Kansas and neighboring states.

Brian Bertelsen, vice president of field operations for U.S. Premium Beef, Dodge City, Kansas, agrees that Sam has been a leader and innovator in the industry. “We brag that at U.S. Premium Beef we have been marketing cattle on a value-based system for 20 years now but Sam started doing it 10 years before that on his own,” he explained. “Sam has used the genetic tools available in his herd and helped his customers, who they custom feed cattle for, use those tools to build sustainable beef production and produce high-quality cattle.”

Sam strives to be a good steward of the land and to engage in sound animal husbandry practices. He focuses on working to optimize pounds of commodity produced and gaining extra market value through a higher quality product. He believes it’s about converting rain and sunshine into a desirable and nutritious product for the consumer.

Hands has been an industry leader, serving as Beef Empire Days and Finney County Farm Bureau president. He was one of the original six delegates on the Cattleman’s Beef Board to develop the Beef Checkoff program. His special interest in the Kansas Beef Council led him to serve as vice chairman. He has also served as chairman of the KSU LMIC and is now serving on the LMIC Royal Board. Currently, he serves on the State FFA Foundation Board, Finney County Economic Development Committee and Beef Empire Days Board.

In 1978, Sam was named the Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher of the Year. He has received the BIF Commercial Producer of the Year Award, Honorary Member and Outstanding Stockman from the KSU Block & Bridle Club, KSU ASI Distinguished Alumni Award, Honorary Finney County 4-H Alumni Award and was made an Honorary Chapter Farmer of the Garden City FFA. Triangle H was named the Certified Angus Beef Progressive Partner of the Year in 2010, and has also received the Beef Empire Days Earl C. Brookover Award nine times in the past 26 years.

“Sam is a leader in the beef industry,” summarized Randall Spare of Ashland Veterinary Center, Ashland, Kansas. “He surrounds himself with people who are knowledgeable and he uses good science when making decisions. Sam wants to capture all the value possible in his own animals and his customers’ cattle and is very disciplined in that process. He wants others to succeed as much as himself. Above all, he is a person of tremendous integrity.”

Sam and his wife, Janet, have three children—Marisa, Quincy and Rebecca—and two grandsons.

The Stockman of the Year Award is presented annually by LMIC.