Audubon Florida recently named 4th-generation cattle business Adams Ranch the recipient of its 2014 Sustainable Rancher Award. The award is given annually to a ranch operation that demonstrates unparalleled concern and advocacy for the environment. Adams Ranch works hard to preserve the natural vegetation and wildlife on its 50,000 acres, which span through St. Lucie, Okeechobee, and Osceola counties.
Adams Ranch has also partnered with conservation groups to champion for conservation restrictions that protect Florida ranch properties as well as cherished Florida lands, including the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge. The ranch has also helped other ranchers protect their own farms from the push for development.
While focusing on environmental conservation, Adams Ranch has also become a very successful cattle operation, coming 13th in the nation and fifth in the state of Florida in the 2013 rankings of Cow-Calf Operations based on the size of its herd. Adams Ranch developed a specific breed of cow, as well, called the Braford breed. For all its achievements, the ranch started with humble beginnings, when Alto Adams, Sr. purchased a plot of untamed land in St. Lucie County. That was 1937.
The farm has been passed down in the family since then, coming into the hands of 4th generation members Alto “Bud” Adams, Jr., Zachary Adams, LeeAnn Adams Simmons, and Stewart Adams.
In the photograph attached to the Sustainable Rancher Award, Alto “Bud” Adams, Jr. stands on that same land, surrounded by the natural environment Adams Ranch works to protect. Bud Adams also put together a book of photographs focusing on his family’s ranch to help preserve Florida’s cattle history.
The Audubon society presents this award each year to ranches and ranchers that make a concerted effort to protect the environment while running their businesses. Adams Ranch family members received the award from Audubon’s Director of Advocacy Charles Lee at the Florida Cattleman’s Association Convention. “Bud Adams and his family were protecting wetlands and wildlife long before any regulations or government programs came about,” Lee states. “They have done it because they truly believe in conservation.”
story by KELSEY TRESSLER
photo by SCOTT TAYLOR