Rising Leader Kateland Raney Is Passionate About Ag
by K. MICHELE TRICE
photos by IMAGES BY BLAIR
A lifetime in the cattle industry has given Kateland Raney a dedication to and passion for not just cattle but agriculture in general. “Agriculture has always been in my life,” she says. “I was fortunate to be one of those kids who was raised in the industry and taught the agriculture values.”
Raney’s parents owned a livestock market for 25 years, and she recalls spending Saturdays running baby calves down the alleyway at the cow sale with her brother, Kenny. She was also heavily involved in FFA and was an FFA officer in high school.
While her parents no longer own the market, she, Kenny, and her parents all own cattle today and participate in the family cattle business. They own Brahman-influenced cattle and have a commercial cow-calf business. Their calves are sold at market, which allows them to continue to grow their herds.
Raney and her father also own a direct-to-consumer beef business, Pine Lake Beef Company, through which they sell beef directly to individual consumers as well as to local restaurants.
“The best part of working with family is the relationship I have with my dad,” Raney says. “We talk two or three times a day every day, and our relationship is close not only because of the business but just because we talk so much. My favorite part is the quality time we get to spend together.”
She works as an Agricultural Loan Closer for AgAmerica Lending and spends much of her time involved in agricultural advocacy.
She is the Co-Chair of the Polk County Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee.
“As our Polk Young Farmer & Rancher Committee chair, Kateland defines what we hope to see in rising agricultural leadership,” says Polk County Farm Bureau Executive Director Carole McKenzie. “In addition to her many Florida Farm Bureau State Leadership Committee activities, Kateland has raised Polk County Farm Bureau’s community outreach profile by coordinating charity drives for both hurricane and hunger relief programs.”
“She has also revamped important advocacy and community education projects to increase our public education exposure,” McKenzie continues. “We look forward to Kateland’s continued Farm Bureau leadership for many years to come.”
Raney is also Secretary of the Board of Directors of Central Florida Youth in Agriculture. She is a member of the Florida Cattelwomen’s Association, Polk County Cattlewomen’s Association, and the Polk County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee.
She says it is important to encourage younger members of the agricultural community and to give them the knowledge they need to succeed. She says it’s important to show younger agriculture professionals that they can bring science and technology skills to ag.
“Advocating for this industry is one of my greatest passions so that it will still be here and thriving when those younger generations get to be my age,” she says.
In late April, Raney and several other Florida Farm Bureau advocates traveled to Washington, D.C. for the 2023 Field to the Hill Trip to meet with elected and appointed officials to advocate for issues affecting those in the Florida agriculture industry.
Raney says the lack of processing facilities is the greatest challenge facing the cattle industry at the moment, not just in Florida.
“There are only four major processing centers in the United States,” she explains, “and they have control over the price things are set at, which trickles down to us on the ranch.”
She goes on to say that the industry also has a problem with a lack of labeling requirements. She explains that unlike fish, for example, beef does not require country of origin labeling, so there is no way for the consumer to know whether the steak they purchase in the store was born, raised, and processed in the United States — or locally here in Florida — or born and raised in another country and simply processed in the United States.
“We are fighting the prices foreign beef can be sold at even though we know we prepare a better quality because we have higher standards,” she continues. “We are providing a better product, but the consumer doesn’t know that.”
“During Covid, we really saw an uptick in consumers wanting to buy local,” she says. “You can buy your beef, pork, and vegetables directly from a farm or ranch. We have consumers who buy directly from us.”
“The positive feedback we get from our clients is really rewarding,” she says. “I have a lot of pride in what we do as ranchers and in the product that we turn over to consumers.”
Raney continues by saying, “I am very proud to be part of this industry, though it is very hard. People can get discouraged quickly. Even if you fail the first or second time, if agriculture is something you are passionate about, don’t quit.”
“It’s a given that you will fail at some point in this industry,” she says. “Just keep going and pursuing your passion and what you want to do in life.”