March was a very busy month for the Florida Cattlemen’s Association. With the guidance of Benita Whalen, FCA Water & Environmental Manager, we were able to present an abstract at the 2020 University of Florida Water Institute Symposium on legacy Phosphorous in the Northern Everglades. The panel consisted of myself, Dr. Betsey Boughton of Buck Island Ranch, Dr. Maria Silveira of IFAS and Dr. Paul Gray of Audubon Florida. We were able to present an informational overview of the legacy Phosphorous issue as well as the positive effects of ranching on the environment. There was a full room of attendees as well as some great discussion and questions. I appreciate all the presenters for taking time to help in demonstrating our positive ranching story.
The FCA officers had a chance to gather up on the JB Ranch in Immokalee for our annual officer cattle gathering. Thanks to Liesa & Russell Priddy of the JB Ranch and their manager Clint Raulerson for hosting our group and their continued hospitality. We were able to assist in the gathering of the JB Ranch herd from the beautiful cabbage dotted landscape as well as trek several miles through the cypress where we moved cattle out of Cattail Lake. This annual event has been very beneficial to your FCA officer team as we continue to plan and lay the groundwork for the association’s future. The comradery that is built by this team while in the woods and on horseback is priceless, your FCA officer team even gets business done while deep in the woods. While at the JB Ranch we were able to have Adam Bass on horseback taking some beautiful images of the landscape, wildlife, cattlemen and cattle. These images will prove to be a valuable part of our positive ranching story as we continue to educate those outside of our industry.
The Florida Cattlemen’s Association has been able to improve its social media presence with the help of FCA members like you. I appreciate all your efforts to post positive stories of your ranch, wildlife and water on social media. We are making some progress getting our message out. One of the images that Adam Bass captured was of the officer team and staff on horseback in the cypress swamp at JB Ranch. This image was posted on social media with a positive story of the stewardship that Florida cattlemen provide to this state. With the help of our membership the post was shared over 1500 times! This is a huge accomplishment that reached thousands of other people not in our circle. My goal for FCA and its social media presence was to get outside our “echo chamber” of our own membership and get our message out to the non-cattle people. This successful post did just that. I encourage you as members to continue to share and comment on these important social media posts. I understand not everyone can post their own content but when you share a post that is important it has a far more reaching effect. These positive ranching story posts are important to our association and our cattle industry.
Our social media platform has expanded in the last month to include the support of a podcast by FCA member Brad Phares titled “Between the Beaches”. A podcast is like a radio talk show where it is mostly discussion of a specific topic for the segment. The Between the Beaches podcast is a combination of cowboy poetry, humor, ranching stories and interviews with Florida cattlemen that showcase our ranching heritage. The first couple weeks of the podcast have been very entertaining and well received by the audience. I would encourage you to subscribe to the Between the Beaches podcast on Spodify, ITunes or Apple Podcasts and follow along on the new social media journey that the FCA is supporting by way of the Florida Cattlemen’s Foundation. This will be just another great tool to #shareyourheritage with people all over the globe.
With the help of a dear friend and my old boss, Fred Williams, I was able to make the security clearance to meet with USDA Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue at the Strawberry Festival in Plant City. This was a great meeting and I was able to get up close to Secretary Perdue because Fred was a thirty-year friend of Secretary Purdue going way back to when Fred set him up as a feed dealer in Georgia. One thing about our industry is you must use those friendships to get to the key decision makers to get your message across. You also must make an impression on them once you get in front of them. I think FCA did that through a fine steak lunch that was handily prepared by our Executive Director Jim Handley, his son Grant Handley as well as Wesley Joyner and Seth Poppell. We discussed trade, labor and Ag policy with Secretary Perdue over a nice lunch. Not only were we able to make an impression on him that day, Past President Alex Johns was able to meet with him at the Brighton Seminole Reservation and discuss policy as well. The FCA is a well-recognized agriculture organization that has continued to gain respect and obtain a seat at the table and represents the cattlemen of Florida.
While we were at the Strawberry Festival with Secretary Perdue, FCLA Class VI had another successful gathering in North Florida. They camped at the beautiful Usher Land & Cattle Company with their gracious hosts Past President Ken Griner, wife Lynetta and their son and FCLA Class V Graduate Korey. They also toured Cracker Land & Cattle (where they had a surprise appearance from FCA Past President Arky Rogers), Ft. McCoy Meats, UF Animal Science Department and Quincey Cattle Company. This is another great leadership opportunity that is funded by Florida Cattlemen’s Foundation through a generous donation by Florida Heritage Beef and other Foundation Donors. Under the leadership of Dusty Holley your association is preparing the next group of cattle industry leaders. If you know of a young cattleman that would benefit from this very educational program, please nominate them to the FCLA Class VII group. “True leaders don’t create followers. They create more leaders.”
In closing I hope you have all been able to get your calves worked this spring. It won’t be long, and they will be leaving the ranch for what I hope is a prosperous year. Please take time to #shareyourheritage on social media as we continue to build on a fascinating ranching story.