Agriculture is Osceola County’s No. 2 industry, right behind tourism.
That may shock folks who may have lived here for just a few years. But if you were born here, you know this as fact.
If your parents, or grandparents, were born here, you probably live it.
Ricky Booth, who comes from the lineage of the Partin family on his mother’s side, is fully ingrained in agriculture. Yes, you know that name from the district 5 seat on the Osceola County School Board, and his run for the same Osceola County Commission later this year, but he’s a great subject to start with in our Positively Osceola series spotlighting agriculture.
In the industry, he’s part-owner and works alongside his family to operate the Doc Partin Ranch, as well as managing the Booth Cattle Company.
“Ag(riculture) is so much of our past, and it’s so much of the present, too,” he said. Osceola is the No. 1 beef cattle producing county in Florida, and it’s our No. 2 industry here, but a ranch isn’t just a ranch anymore.”
For example, ranchers now are cutting sod to put down in commercial lawns, and new ideas for crops are coming out of the dirt like blueberries.
But it hasn’t always been cattle; that came from a change in the times as well.
“My great-grandfather came here in the timber industry, this area was huge in logging in the early 1900s,” Booth said. “The canals around the county were dug to move that around.”
When it came time to think about planting crops, those pioneers of industry change learned quickly the soil ’round here isn’t suitable for farming.
“But it is for raising cattle, with a lower environmental impact,” Booth said. “Beef-producing cattle have adapted to the land and the climate.”
Operations like Booth’s family’s Doc Partin ranch are cow-calf operations, meaning the calves and are born and raised here before being sent to grazing and feeding facilities in the Midwest, where the rest of the process takes place.
“It’s possible that, if you’ve eaten a steak in a local restaurant, that cow was born here and spent its early life here,” Booth said.
So how is the industry changing in this generation? By breeding a better cow, leaning heavily on science.
“We’re still raising cattle, now we’re into the genetics of Brahman cattle,” he said. “It’s a brand of animal that’s adapted to the weather here.”
Look for the Positively Osceola series spotlighting agriculture. Agriculture is flourishing and evolving, and will continue to be a major component of the Osceola County culture for years to come!