The agriculture community is proud to be the second-largest industry in the state of Florida, employing over two million people and contributing more than $104 billion to the economy every year. Cattle have been a part of the Florida landscape since 1521. Osceola County, in particular, has a long history as a large producer of cattle in this state that continues today. Cattle have been part of Osceola County since before it became a county in 1887, earning Kissimmee the nickname “Kowtown.” Osceola is the third-largest cattle-producing county in Florida, with over 300 farms and ranches.
Small But Mighty
Although Osceola County represents part of the nation’s largest cattle producers and some of the state’s largest producers, most members of the Osceola Cattlemen’s Association are smaller producers. These smaller outfits help advocate for land preservation, property rights, sustainability, and water rights protection. With almost 1,000 people a day moving to Florida, cattle producers are finding it harder and harder to sustain their way of life for current and future generations.
Newly elected President, Mike Facente
The newly elected President of the Osceola County Cattlemen, Mike Facente, knows this story all too well. Growing up in St. Cloud, Mike has been a resident of Osceola County for 50 years. At 12 or 13 years old, Mike remembers riding horses to East Lake Toho on dirt roads and cattle being present in all areas of the county. Mike married a rancher’s daughter, Amie Facente, and the two of them started their cattle operation, CF Bar Cattle, 29 years ago. They run their cattle in nine pastures spanning three counties but feel like they are beginning to lose more and more pasture as leases development moves closer and closer.
Cattle Producers Help Osceola County
As a result of the ever-changing market demands, cattle producers (small and large) are forced to diversify their operations with other commodities such as citrus, blueberries, timber, sod, and corn. Not only do cattle producers help supply a food source, but they also support a wide range of allied businesses such as feed suppliers, heavy machine operations, and fertilizer manufacturers. While they do not mind the diversification needed to continue, most are fighting to keep their operations continuing for our next generation of agriculturalists.
If you are interested in joining the Osceola County Cattlemen’s Association, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Mike Facente at 863-697-9419.
Written by Ashton Mears