I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year! I hope all of you were able to spend time during Christmas with some or all of your family. While most folks are making resolutions and planning for the New Year we cattlemen are closing out one production cycle and starting another. The New Year will be blessed with beauty and joy from the land and livestock. I encourage you to take this time to enjoy your labor and the success you have made off the land.
December was a busy month with a very productive Quarterly meeting in Okeechobee. It was one of the most widely attended meetings of the year with lots of business to be conducted. There were some educational committee meetings as well as educational presentations. The weather was perfect for a fire at the steak out that was held at my family ranch. I appreciate all those who helped pull off such a momentous event. The month was also full of county meetings from Indian River to Sarasota where cattlemen were festive for the holidays but still conducted their usual business meetings.
The month of December is always the month of annual bird counts. You may ask, why do cattlemen care about annual bird counts? Well in today’s anti-agriculture climate cattlemen need to focus on the positive benefits of ranching. One of those positive benefits is the amount of birds that utilize ranch lands for habitat. I was able to host the Martin County Audubon Chapter to a morning of birding recently. The ten birders that came to visit were amazed at the 49 species of birds they identified at the ranch. I was able to share our ranching story with them and discuss topics like rotational grazing, water storage and brush management to increase bird density and diversity. It was a wonderful day to bridge the gap from coastal communities to ranch land landscapes. I would encourage each of you to open your gates and hosts these groups when you have the opportunity.
The New Year also brings new challenges like the changing political climate. As we witnessed with the last election, we are only one cycle away from losing all our influence in Tallahassee. There are so very few legislators that have any tie to agriculture. We must seek out qualified candidates and encourage them to serve. This year our Legislative Quarterly in Tallahassee is January 21-23. Your association needs a big turnout to represent the cattle industry on legislative issues that are affecting our livelihood. I am encouraging all our members that can, to invest the time to attend the quarterly and help us make an impression. Our story is best told by the members that live it every day. The Florida Cattlemen’s Association has a very strong PAC and is successful due to the generous donation of sale bulls and those cattlemen that purchase them each year at the annual convention. With the political arena changing every year it takes more funds to operate each year. I would encourage you to make additional PAC contributions to the FCA. There are several ways to accomplish this funding. You can have PAC deductions taken out of your check at your local livestock market, directly paid to FCA or in addition to your annual dues.
Don’t forget to make plans to attend the Allied Trade Show in Arcadia on January 16. It is always a great program with this year’s topic “Ranching in the year 2020 and Beyond”. There will be presentations on pastures and rangeland, disease traceability and record keeping. The trade show is always a great resource of information and very well attended. I hope to see you there.
I would like to continue to encourage you to #shareyourheritage on social media by telling your story. Our stories are a big part of the history and heritage that we live every day. The FCA is promoting the ranching way of life in numerous avenues. Our heritage is going to be shared in print, video, podcast and television during the spring so stay tuned to see what’s in store. I commend our Public Relations Committee for their efforts to #shareyourheritage. They have been working on a template to gather information that assists in sharing those stories on social media for folks that don’t post content. Please reach out to a member of the PR Committee of your interested in them helping to tell your story.
In closing I remember a story that has stayed with me for some time. I was putting out molasses with my oldest daughter Taylor; she would have been about 6 years old at the time, for a large ranch on Christmas Eve. The ole Mack truck I was using had seen its better days and been giving Taylor and I trouble all day. Well as it got later in the day we decided to quit early so we could make it back in time for Santa Claus. We ended up breaking down about ten miles from the headquarters and the location of my truck. After we walked out of the woods and made it to the main road, Taylor joyfully said, “someone will surely pick us up now and we won’t have to walk anymore”. Well you would have thought she was right, but I guess all those employee trucks that passed us were in a hurry to get to see Santa Claus too because no one offered to stop and give us a ride. At that point as dark started to set in Taylor knew her Christmas was going to be terrible. Right before the sun was going down an older gentleman with a fancy truck stopped and offered us a ride. We gladly got in and away we went. Taylor was so thankful to the stranger that he had saved her Christmas. Myself I was amazed that the owner, a mythical man to myself, who I hadn’t yet met (but I certainly knew who he was) would bother to stop on Christmas Eve to pick up two strangers on his ranch. Needless to say, we made the Christmas Eve party, and all was well. I think back at all the people who were in a hurry and wouldn’t stop to help two stranded people. Then I think of the man who had it all that stopped to assist. In our day to day struggles let us be mindful of those who need some help whether its encouragement, a positive thought or something like the assistance the ranch owner gave Taylor and me. It is these small gestures that people remember. I hope there is a way I may help some of our members. I look forward to continuing to serve your organization into 2020. If there is anything I can do please reach out to me. 863-634-3489 or firstname.lastname@example.org.