COLLEGE STATION — Dr. John McNeill, associate department head for the department of animal science at Texas A&M University, has been selected Man of the Year in Southwest Agriculture by Progressive Farmer.
A profile of McNeill will be published in the Feb. 1 issue of the magazine, and the award is scheduled to be presented in August at the Beef Cattle Shortcourse at Texas A&M University.
McNeill was cited for his work as coordinator for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service’s Ranch to Rail and Value-Added Calf (VAC) program.
The Ranch to Rail program is the biggest feedlot performance and carcass evaluation test in the United States. Since 1991, it has provided feedback to more than 800 ranchers in nine states about how well their cattle fit the needs of the total beef industry.
The Value-Added Calf program — a vaccination and management system — emerged from Ranch to Rail.
Karl Wolfshohl, editor for Progressive Farmer magazine in Lubbock, said McNeill and the other faculty who are involved in these projects, “are changing the cow/calf industry by getting farmers and ranchers to send genetically better and healthier calves up the line to their customers — the feedlots and ultimately, the consumer.
“His work goes beyond the boundaries of Texas,” Wolfshohl said.
McNeill said he was surprised when he was notified of the award and felt privileged. “I look around at some of the prior recipients and wonder what I did to receive the same honor,” McNeill said.
He said the Ranch to Rail and VAC programs are successful because of the tremendous amount of cooperation between his coworkers and peers and because of industry adoption of the applied research and result demonstrations that came from these programs.
As associate department head, McNeill coordinates Extension educational programs for 24 subject matter specialists in the animal science department.
For 14 years, he was the Extension beef cattle specialist in Amarillo where he worked closely with the stocker/feeder cattle industry. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees at Texas A&M University and his doctorate in animal nutrition from the University of Kentucky.