Birmingham, Ala. The Alabama Beef Cattle Improvement Association (BCIA) recently honored Harrell Watts, Jr. as the 2012 Richard Deese Award recipient during their Annual Meeting and Awards Program held in conjunction with the 70th Annual Alabama Cattlemen's Association Convention in Birmingham on March 23.

The Richard Deese Award was established in 1986 to honor Deese, an extension animal scientist in charge of the BCIA program in the 1970s and early 1980s. The award is presented to individuals who uphold the principles of performance testing and genetic improvement of beef cattle in Alabama. Since 1986, cattle producers, extension workers and beef industry supporters have received the award.

Harrell Watts, Jr. is a multi-generational farmer and cattle rancher from Sardis, Alabama in Dallas County. The Watts farm is a family enterprise active in both seedstock and commercial cattle production. Harrell Watts, Jr. is a pioneer of Simmental genetics and became a member of Alabama BCIA in 1971, serving multiple terms as a director of BCIA. He began participating in Alabama BCIA bull evaluations early in the 1970s, and his seedstock cattle operation, Simmentals of Alabama, has earned many top bull awards both at the Auburn University Bull Test and the West Central Grazing Test. In 1992, Simmentals of Alabama was honored as BCIA Purebred Producer of the Year.

Harrell Watts, Jr. also began processing commercial cattle records with Alabama BCIA in 1993 and remains an active herd today. The commercial cow herd was been honored with earning numerous Alabama BCIA Top Weaning Weight and BCIA Gold Star Cow awards over the years and was again honored in 2012. He holds one of the earliest membership numbers in the American Simmental Association (ASA), and began a term as a Trustee on the ASA Board of Directors in 1994. He served as chairman of the Trustees from 1999-2000. During this time, he also served as chairman of the ASA Growth and Development Committee for 4 years. In 2011, Harrell Watts was awarded with the American Simmental Association's prestigious Golden Book Award. An award that recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the development of the Simmental breed in the US and throughout the world. Harrell Watts is active in both the Dallas County Cattlemen's Association and the Dallas County Farmers' Federation, having held many leadership positions.

The Alabama BCIA is a non-profit organization seeking to promote, educate and facilitate the use of performance data, record keeping and marketing opportunities to improve the Alabama cattle industry. Formed in 1964, BCIA cooperates with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System of Auburn University under a formal agreement.

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