Peyton Chandley Talks About the Beef Industry and Her Goals
by ANNABEL ROCHA
Eighth-generation cattle rancher Peyton Chandley is proud to represent Polk County as the 2022-2023 Cattlemen’s Association Sweetheart. Raised by Barrett and Lori Chandley, the 19-year-old says ranching is in her blood, and she is extremely passionate about conservation and the beef industry.
The University of Florida freshman sat down with Central Florida Ag News to discuss her goals as PCCA Sweetheart and the impact she hopes to make through this role.
Central Florida Ag News (CFAN): How does it feel to be this year’s PCCA Sweetheart?
Chandley: It feels good. I’m very lucky and blessed to be able to do it, and I definitely hope to make my county proud.
CFAN: Is this something you’ve always wanted to do?
Chandley: I grew up going to the Cattlemen’s Convention pretty much every year since I was 6 months old, so I’ve been watching it and I’ve looked up to the girls who have won in the past. It’s definitely been an idea. I’ve always been passionate about advocating for the beef industry, and now this is my opportunity to do it.
CFAN: Who inspired you to join the competition?
Chandley: My whole family inspired me. We are very close, and I look up to my entire family because of how far they’ve brought our family business — specifically my grandpa. He’s very passionate about conserving the environment, not only promoting beef but doing it in a very Christian way. He’s always promoting God.
CFAN: Why cattle? What does it mean to you?
Chandley: It’s a part of me. I’ve grown up in the cattle industry and I feel like people who don’t grow up seeing the ins and outs of cattle ranching don’t really get to know what it actually is. I think that the way it’s sometimes portrayed in the media isn’t actually reality. Getting to grow up in this atmosphere and making that my way of life has made me realize how much I love it and how important it is to our economy.
CFAN: What do you think is the biggest misconception of the beef industry?
Chandley: I would say that the biggest misconception is that farmers don’t really care about their animals. I feel like a lot of people don’t take into consideration the fact that if we didn’t care about the welfare, the health, and the happiness of our animals, then we wouldn’t be able to make a living because our success pretty much depends on the productivity of our cattle. If they weren’t happy, if they weren’t healthy, then they wouldn’t be producing and we wouldn’t be making any money.
CFAN: What do you wish more people knew about beef or the cattle industry?
Chandley: I wish more people realized how major it is in Florida. For a lot of people, whenever they think of cattle they automatically think of cowboys in Texas or out West, but they don’t really realize that Florida is one of the top producing states for cow and calf operations. There’s a lot to offer here, but also a lot of people are moving here. Urbanization has become a hot spot in Florida, so there’s less and less land. I wish people would realize how much of an issue that is.
CFAN: Do you have a favorite part of this lifestyle?
Chandley: Being around the cattle and being out in the pasture gives me a couple of hours a day to destress. Even though it’s considered work, I don’t really see it as work because I enjoy it so much.
CFAN: What do you hope others learn from you as you carry this role as PCCA Sweetheart?
Chandley: I hope people will look at me as an inspiration on how to lead in a faithful way. I hope people look at me as a girl who’s very strong in her faith because that’s my biggest priority whenever I want to leave an impression—my values.
CFAN: Can you see yourself doing this forever?
Chandley: I definitely would want to keep ties with it for the rest of my life. No matter where I end up after college, I would definitely want to keep being involved, and for sure my kids. That’s another reason why I’m so passionate about conservation. I would want my kids and my grandkids to be able to see the same side of Florida that I get to see.