“Thank You, I am humbled, honored, and consider it a great privilege to serve each of you as your Florida Cattlemen’s President over this coming year.” I would like to thank Immediate Past President Matt Pearce for his leadership and steadfast determination in leading our Florida Cattlemen’s Association this past year. In looking forward to this coming year, my hope is to push us forever forwards in the positive directions that you, our membership, and all our Past Presidents, have guided us towards.
My guiding words for us this year are Open Gates, Open Minds.
Despite the unprecedented times for our society at the start of my term, like President Pearce and the Presidents before us over these last 85 years, I will not stand idle while I serve as your President. While we all missed the friendship of our annual meeting, I hope we will soon be able to travel more freely and visit around the state and the country. Although new technologies seem daunting at first, like leadership in so many other organizations, I also plan to encourage us to use online communication, and ensure we stay in touch.
In a changing world my goal over this next year will be to build unity and forge bridges across all elements of our industry and with society at large. To overcome divisions, real and perceived, we must be willing to look inwards and outwards, to share and to listen, and to learn from ourselves and from others with differing perspectives. Building on our heritage and history is the essence of future, but how we come together with others will steer future directions. With ‘Open Minds’ we can look for where we agree, be willing to disagree in some instances, and then make forward progress. Our way forward is to be able to say, “We have discussed the circumstances or this situation broadly, and we have agreed on solutions that are best for the industry and for society as a whole.”
Open Minds take challenges and turn them into opportunities. Our last months of ‘Covid’ have exposed huge issues not only for ranching but for all agricultural industries. Never has there been a more important time than now for new thinking and re-evaluation of our food system. This is not the time to point fingers and say, “This segment or that segment is being unfair”, rather it’s time to come together and develop solutions. It is time for all agriculture industry leaders and organizations to sit down, roll up our sleeves, work together with our partners, and to plan and build alternative food networks to feed people. We never want to get back to a situation where farmers plow in their crops, dairymen pour out their milk, and others are forced to consider euthanizing some animals.
Our Florida continues to change at a rapid pace. I have always said, “I have been blessed that my family chose Florida and that I am a 6th generation Floridian.” Boy I love this state, but so do 22 million other folks, and that number is growing. Today we recognize our struggles are not only against the weather but the continued pressure on our lands. This is why we must pull together and ‘Open Gates’ to all decision makers, so that we can inform Floridians about ‘their agriculture systems’ and the complexities of growing, raising, and producing the food we all must have to eat. We must share what we think we know among ourselves and start preaching beyond the choir. In order to ‘Open Minds’ we must open ours, and be willing to show our passion and share our heritage with others who share a love of the land, the waters, and the wildlife of ‘OUR’ Florida.
As I write this message I reflect. I am thankful for the Lord God above. I am grateful for a loving family and thank them all for always being there for me, even when I was not there for myself. I am very appreciative to Jack Brack for putting a hoe in my hand at 10 years of age; Neely Saddler and my Uncle Ed for tolerating me at 11 while hunting cows in the summer in Taylor County; Mr. Red Simpson for allowing me to drive that truck at age 13; Dr. A. E. Whaley and family for mentoring and guiding me in ranching from 14 years old on; the Kempfer family and Geech Partin Family for always letting me hang around; and to Mr. Dan B. Childs for reaching out and bringing me to Archbold. To Archbold Biological Station and Buck Island Ranch, words cannot express my gratitude for the last 27 years and for allowing me this opportunity to serve as your FCA President.
In closing I look forward to the year ahead and to follow those that went before me. I believe in carrying on the visions of the past seven presidents (President Williamson—Tell Our Story, President Kempfer—Circle the Herd, President Jacobsen—Build Leaders, President Waters—Our Roots Run Deep, President Griner—Find A Way, President Johns—#showyourpassion, and President Pearce— #shareyourheritage). My vision is for us to come together in unity and to #OpenGatesOpenMinds. We have a lot of work ahead of us. During every month of my Presidency, my message in this magazine will feature an interesting challenge I believe we face, explore potential solutions, and seek your feedback. The solutions to our challenges are within our grasp: we just have to being willing to dig through the knowledge and facts that exist in our world.
Just know this, whether you look at this sun as rising or setting, I am riding for you. For, “Greater Love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s Friends.
Please never hesitate to call me, text me, or email! My contact info is below.
“IN GOD We Trust”
Archbold’s Buck Island Ranch
300 Buck Island Ranch Rd.
Lake Placid, Florida 33852
863-699-0242 ext. 3 (office)