SD Simmental breeder fights stage four non-Hodgkins lymphoma

Savanna Simmons For Tri-State Livestock News
Farm Forum

Kipp Julson probably won’t tell you he has been the Simmental Association promoter of the year for both North Dakota and South Dakota, where he resides. He probably won’t tell you his family received Cattleman of the Year honors from the same association last year. Kipp probably won’t tell you how he has helped to grow the Simmental Breed into a thriving, well-known breed in his state and region. But his friends will tell you about Kipp and what a kind, helpful person he is, and those same friends are standing beside Kipp, 41, as he fights cancer that was diagnosed Feb. 16.

Kipp has had the cancer—non-Hodgkins lymphoma currently at stage four — for about three years and has been misdiagnosed with everything from farmer’s lung to asthma and severe allergies, but Kipp never quit trying to get to the bottom of his sickness.

“It was about this time of year, I had a bad cold and chronic cough. I had some stuff checked, and they did tell me I had a mass in my right lung, but they told me it was non-cancerous. I went to see some other doctors pursuing the chronic cough,” he said.

Throughout the fall, Kipp still wasn’t feeling well, often experiencing pain in his lungs and lower back as well as headaches and other symptoms, and while he kept pursuing other doctors and having more tests done, none of the doctors arrived on a cancer diagnosis due to the lack of evidence in blood tests.

“Finally I asked one doctor to do a biopsy on a lump on my neck and he came back with non-Hodgkins lymphoma stage one,” Kipp said. “A couple weeks later, they tested multiple spots in my body and did a biopsy in my spine, and it’s in my bones. They moved it to stage four, about two weeks after they first caught it.”

Kipp had just started his six months of chemotherapy, but due to an infection from the port earlier this week he had to skip his third chemo session. He was treated instead with an IV and antibiotics. The infection reaching his blood is a greater concern than the cancer at the moment.

Kipp married Jana Pederson in 2015, and her two children, Tessa, now 16, and Drew, now 13, pulled Kipp back into the world of showing, something he is very familiar with. His parents were involved with the evolution of the Simmental breed in its early years, the 1970s. Following his passion, Kipp took over the leadership role of the family business at a very young age.

“Kipp was probably calling the shots about breeding when he was in high school,” Steve Eichacker said. “Kipp at a very young age took over leadership role. It has been his passion ever since he was a kid.” Steve and his wife Cathy, one of the organizers of a benefit for Kipp, were junior advisors for the South Dakota Simmental Association when Kipp was a junior within the program.

Kipp’s sole job is to develop the Simmental breed at Double J Farms, the farm established by his parents, in Garrettson, South Dakota. He also served on the South Dakota Beef Breeds Council as president and representative for Simmental and served two six-year terms on the South Dakota Simmental Association board.

“He has gotten a lot of awards. He’s very active in South Dakota, but the one thing about Kipp, when he was in charge, things got done that were supposed to be,” Steve said. “Kipp was the North Dakota promoter of year three years ago. You’d think usually they want to stay in-state, but they thought enough of him in North Dakota to make him promoter of year. It shows you how active and involved he is.”

Double J cattle were often seen winning coinciding shows at state sales like the Black Hills Stock Show, Sioux Empire Farm Show, and Watertown Winter Farm Show, through the 1990s and early 2000s. Kipp slowed down at the state sales to strengthen his bull sales.

“They had many a champion over the years at these state consignment sales. They have a very elite herd regionally and now Kipp does a bull sale, and a lot of them get sold to purebred breeders throughout the country,” Steve said.

As much as Kipp is known for his fine herd, he is also known for his big heart.

“Kipp is one of those guys, if you needed help with anything, help with fundraising for the Simmental board, help with the junior program, he was there. He’s an all-around guy, very passionate about his cattle, loves to talk cattle, and just a very good person,” Steve’s wife Cathy said. “It’s not a nice thing to happen to such a nice guy.”

He is the same as a father, giving his step-children all the opportunities to thrive in the cattle industry and showing as he had.

“Kipp is the most kind-hearted, hard-working man I have ever met. He’s a person that will do anything for anyone at any time,” his wife Jana said. “He is an amazing step father to my kids and they love him so much. Kipp is very involved in all the kid’s activities both in school and out of school. The kids are very active in 4-H, FFA, and many sports. They absolutely love to show cattle, and it’s a great way for them to bond with Kipp. He’s very passionate about the livestock industry and has such great knowledge, that everyday it’s a learning experience for them. I know they wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!”

“Kipp has a lot of medical expenses, and I’m not sure what his insurance will cover,” Cathy said. “He had to hire a hired man to help with chores, so hopefully it can help out.”

“We cannot imagine our life without him. Kipp knows he can beat this, and, hopefully, in six months his cancer will be in remission. Unfortunately, this type of cancer is not curable, so he will always have the chance of it becoming active in him at any time,” Jana said. “We love him very much and will be by his side every step of the way. We are so speechless at the amount of support all our family and friends have shown. There are not enough ways to say thank you to each and every one of them.”

Online benefit auction information

• April 26 (Kipp’s birthday)

• 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.


• Organized by Cathy Eichacker and a few members of the South Dakota Beef Breeds Council. It will have a soft ending at 7 p.m. with bids being allowed to continue as long as they are within five minutes of one another. Several hunting trips have been donated, as well as a power washer, semen, embryos, and craft items.

• You can also donate directly at

Reprinted with permission from Tri-State Livestock News.

The Julson family and Double J Simmentals was awarded the South Dakota Simmental Association Cattleman of the Year last year. From left, Tessa Pederson, Kipp Julson – South Dakota Simmental Association representative, Bob and Betty Julson, Jana Julson, and Drew Pederson. Photo courtesy of the Julson family