South Dakota ranchers support the troops through the American Beef Battalion |

South Dakota ranchers support the troops through the American Beef Battalion

Photo by Amanda Radke Close to $50,000 was raised was raised for the All-American Beef Battalion as a result of a donation made by Kevin and Lori Huber. The money will be used to feed steaks to the troops, including Huber's son Lance, who will return home from Afghanistan this fall. (Debra is the daughter in law). (from left) Lori, Kevin and Debra Huber.

Since 2007, the All-American Beef Battalion (AABB) has served up more than 125,000 steaks to men and women serving in the U.S. military. At $10 per plate, these steak feeds have been exclusively sponsored by rural communities, local businesses, agriculture organizations and farm and ranch families.

The AABB is a non-profit organization committed to thanking the troops with American beef. The idea was launched by Vietnam veteran and Kansas cattleman Bill Broadie, who believes every man and women fighting for the nation’s freedom deserves to know they are appreciated. For Broadie, there’s no better way to say thanks than with beef.

For Kevin and Lori Huber, cattle feeders and crop farmers from Irene, SD, AABB makes sense. Not only does the organization promote beef, but it also embraces patriotism. The Hubers have one son, Lance, who is serving in the South Dakota Army National Guard in the 842nd Engineering Company. Lance is stationed overseas in Afghanistan, and his unit will return home in the fall. With a steak feed for the unit already in works, the community is ready to raise money for the cause.

The Hubers got the ball rolling, purchasing a registered Simmental heifer from Kevin Healy. They donated the heifer, which was sold in a roll-over auction on March 8 at the Yankton Livestock Auction.

“I saw an article in the paper about AABB, and with a son on active duty, I thought it was a great time to donate to this cause,” said Kevin Huber. “The salebarn was instrumental in helping us organize the event, and the support from the community has been incredible.”

First Dakota National Bank sponsored a sirloin sandwich lunch on the day of the auction, and Kevin Healy’s daughter, Rose, sang the national anthem. Radio personality and Nebraska rancher, Trent Loos, was on hand to speak at the opening of the auction.

The roll-over auction raised $42,750, with donations continuing to pour in. The heifer was purchased by Austin Bjerkaas of Viborg, SD for $3,300. Not to mention, because bacon tastes so good wrapped around a steak, even area pork producers got involved. Ray Epp, of Mission Hill, SD, donated a whole-hog to the AABB, which sold to Koupal Family Angus of Dante, SD, for $400.

“Our son Lance is so overwhelmed by the support of the community,” said Lori Huber. “For people to shell out this money in this tough economy to support the military is very humbling. What our troops sacrifice is hard to describe. Many give their lives, so that we can live in the land of the free. Thanks to all who give, and if you can’t give, offer prayers. We can’t say thank you enough to the community members who helped with this cause.”

Although it was past midnight in Afghanistan at the time of the sale, Lance’s wife, Debra, was able to get him in on the action via Skype. He was able to catch every second of the event from a world away.

“I can’t say thanks enough for the support given to us from the community,” said Debra. “Having Lance be away from home is tough at times, but the sacrifice is for a good cause.”

The family looks forward to Lance’s safe return home in September, with a steak feed tentatively planned for October in Spearfish, SD. Another fundraiser was held on March 14 in Huron for the AABB, with funds to help Bill Broadie and the AABB board of directors continue serving up sizzling American steaks to thank the troops.

“We want to thank the South Dakota farmers, ranchers and community members who stepped up to the plate to help our cause,” said Broadie. “Yankton Livestock Auction broke the record for funds raised for this cause. As long as we have active military serving our country, we are going to keep doing what we are doing. It’s our way of saying thanks to those who make great sacrifices to protect our freedoms.”

For more information on AABB or to make a donation, check out:

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