The Roger Neitzel Distinguished Service Award
2021 Recipients: Lee and Luanne Barber, DeWitt, Iowa
Lee and Luanne Barber have dedicated their entire lives in one way or another to the Brown Swiss breed.
Looking back a few years to October 1957, an enthusiastic young FFA member bought his first registered Brown Swiss calf. The calf was Dell Valley Fi Fi Dancer from long time breeder and promoter of the breed Howard Prather at his dispersal. Lee’s interest in Brown Swiss was founded when his father purchased 7 grade heifers, of which 2 were Brown Swiss. Lee relates that of the seven, only the two Brown Swiss – named “Goat” and “Brownie” -- were “worth a darn”, or something like that.
Lee and Luanne were married in 1962 and established Lee-Ann’s Swiss while registering the Lee-Ann prefix. Luanne grew up on a farm that showed beef cattle. They rented their first farm in 1964 and moved their 23 head of registered Brown Swiss from Lee’s father’s farm. They purchased and moved to their present location in 1969.
Lee and Luanne have 3 children, Elaine, Charlie, and Maureen. Elaine married Randy Franck and they joined the operation in 1985. The Francks have 3 children, with son Brandon and his wife Demi also part of the operation. Maureen is married to Bob Hanson and along with their 6 children are involved in showing Brown Swiss. Charlie and his wife, Jalane, live in Florida with their 2 children.
Lee & Luanne Barber Lee-Ann’s milk 90 head of Brown Swiss. The Rolling herd average is 20,126 milk, 867 fat and 757 protein. They milk in a double-5 herringbone parlor. The Barbers farm 430 acres of corn, soybeans, and alfalfa.
Their first Reserve All-American was a Junior Yearling Bull, ES Stretch Billy, who was Junior Champion at the Central National Show in 1973.
Their biggest show ring accomplishment occurred in 1979 when Lee led Jean Billy Jenny in the Parade of Champions on the colored shavings at the Central National Show at World Dairy Expo as the Grand Champion Brown Swiss Cow. Jenny was also selected as the All-American 4-year-old that year.
While they have shown cattle at local, state, and national arenas, their major contributions have come with their involvement at all kinds of levels regarding Brown Swiss. Whether it’s their commitment to help juniors, their neighbors or fellow breeders or their involvement in local, state or national organizations, Lee and Luanne are always there to help or be part of the leadership. Following are highlights of some of those contributions.
Lee and Luanne have served in multiple capacities within their community as 4-H leaders and in the industry as DHIA board members. Lee has been a county fair board member for over 25 years. The Barbers were honored in 2014 by the Iowa State Fair for 50 years of continuous exhibition. They are both active in the Iowa Brown Swiss Association and serve on several committees. Lee has chaired the state sale for numerous years and Luanne served more than 20 years as the Iowa Brown Swiss Association secretary. Luanne also serves as secretary for the Iowa Purebred Dairy Cattle Council.
On the national level, Lee is the only person to serve twice as Brown Swiss Association President. He served as District Director from 1972-76, President from 1986-90, and President for a second time from 2012-2016.
Lee and Luanne were instrumental in the initial Fun Auction at the Iowa National Convention in 1982 creating funds for the Junior Programs. The Junior Fun Auction continues today as the main fund raiser for Junior Programs. Its success has been phenomenal. Lee has been a ringman at every auction and Luanne has probably been involved with the cashier at most auctions. Some of the outfits Lee has worn include: clown, fisherman, yodeler, baseball player, jockey, carnival hawker, among others.
Over the years, Lee-Anns has exported cattle to numerous international destinations, and Lee has judged shows across the United States as well as in Columbia, Honduras, and Brazil.
Lee has been on the sale crew of Modern Associates for years taking bids, on the phone buying for breeders, and helping select for sales. He has also been on the sales team for Brown Swiss Sales Service.
Quotes from Wayne Sliker and Darrell Worden as taken from the Bulletin article in June 2018 follow.
(Wayne Sliker comments:) “Lee Barber has been a great supporter of the Brown Swiss breed during his entire career. We at Top Acres/Modern Associates have been privileged to know and work with Lee for over 40 years. Lee’s dedicated leadership over the years has been much appreciated by our breeders across the country”.
(Darrell Worden comments:) “Over the course of the years, Lee and I have worked hundreds of sales. We have traveled together in one vehicle thousands of miles. I remember about 10 years ago, during one of our discussions, I was getting pretty worked up about a topic when Lee paused for a moment and said: ‘it will work itself out, it always does’.”
Roger Neitzel, Lee & Luanne Barber, Norm Magnussen