Kenneth McClain

Citation
Kenneth McClain

Material Information

Title:
Kenneth McClain
Series Title:
West Central Florida land use oral history project
Creator:
McClain, Kenneth, 1960-
Mansfield, Bill
University of South Florida Libraries -- Florida Studies Center. -- Oral History Program
University of South Florida -- Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publisher:
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
1 sound file ( 44 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Land use, Rural -- Florida -- Manatee County ( lcsh )
Ranching -- Florida -- Manatee County ( lcsh )
Leases -- Florida ( lcsh )
Genre:
Oral history. ( local )
Online audio. ( local )
interview ( marcgt )
Oral history ( local )
Online audio ( local )

Notes

Summary:
Kenneth McClain, a rancher and a millwright, talks about the challenges of being a cow-calf cattleman who leases land in the Manatee County area. He specifically discusses land use by cattle men, leasing land for ranching, land owners selling land that ranchers are leasing, moving cattle, pasture maintenance, the beef cattle industry, developers and greed, rural development in Parrish Florida, and the migration of Florida farmers to Tennessee. He also discusses the history of land leasing in Florida.
Venue:
Interview conducted June 26, 2007, in Parrish, Fla.
System Details:
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by William Mansfield.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
028592682 ( ALEPH )
182556439 ( OCLC )
W34-00010 ( USFLDC DOI )
w34.10 ( USFLDC Handle )

Postcard Information

Format:
Audio

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


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Kenneth McClain, a rancher and a millwright, talks about the challenges of being a cow-calf cattleman who leases land in the Manatee County area. He specifically discusses land use by cattle men, leasing land for ranching, land owners selling land that ranchers are leasing, moving cattle, pasture maintenance, the beef cattle industry, developers and greed, rural development in Parrish Florida, and the migration of Florida farmers to Tennessee. He also discusses the history of land leasing in Florida.
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text William Mansfield: This is Bill Mansfield from the Special Collections Library of the University of South Florida and the Patel Center for Global Solutions and Im talking to Mr. Ken McClain, here in Parrish, Florida on June 26, 2007. Mr. Mclain is a cattle rancher and we want to talk with him about pasturing his cattle and his response to urban sprawl. The first thing we ask everybody to do is have them state their name and tell us when they were born and where they were born, so let her go.
1
00:00:35.0
Kenneth McCain: My name is Kenneth (inaudible) Worth McClain and I was born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1960, May 24, 1960.
2
00:00:43.2
WM: Okay. I know that you ranch but you also have a day job, a regular job?
3
00:00:52.7
KM: Yes Im a millwright, of sorts at Tropicana Products and Ive been there for twenty-eight years.
4
00:01:0.8
WM: Wow! Okay, Tell me about your ranching operation.
5
00:01:4.7
KM: Well, we run about forty-five, fifty head of mama cows in one herd. And at forty head of mama cows in the other herd. Its strictly a cow-calf operation. The type of are crossbred. The bulls are Beefmaster bulls. We feel that they are more heat tolerant and tend to stay in the pasture a little better than some of the other breeds.
6
00:01:31.8
WM: Well for the folks who dont understand what a cow-calf operation is, could you explain that please?
7
00:01:36.0
KM: Yes. We actually take none of our cows to slaughter; unless we have issues with them they quit calving or something. We raise the calves upwe get about one calf a year per cow. The gestation period is nine months. And at about five months old, six months old, we take them to a common market. Its an auction house, we use the one in Arcadia but theres one in Wauchula, Florida.
8
00:02:5.4
Theyre auctioned off and they are usually taken up towards Georgia, somewhere, to a process called conditioning. They give them all of their shots and castrate the bull calves. They separate out into herds that are similar size, similar breeding, similar body-types. Then once are conditioned for a few months they take them out west for them to become fattened and turned into beef.
9
00:02:30.4
WM: Okay. So the cow-calf means you have the cows and sell off the calves.
10
00:02:34.3
KM: Sell-off the calves. We dont butcher anything.
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00:02:36.2
WM: And youve got ninety head all told?
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00:02:39.9
KM: Yes. Roughly between me, and my stepdaughter, weve got about ninety head, roughly.
13
00:02:43.9
WM: Okay. Tell me about the land around here that you pasture them on.
14
00:02:48.7
KM: I have several leases. I used to be called the Five Acre Cowboy cause I had a lot of little five acre pieces, or little ten acre pieces. Weve always been trying to grow a little bit at the time. You know, hold a few of our heifer calves back, for cows. And changing bulls. You can do that every so many generations. Its a poor mans way of growing a cowherd up.
15
00:03:10.9
So were always looking. And every time something comes up we always either bid on, or I try to lease it, or something. We got up to about 100 acres. And then few months ago, a gentleman came to me and offered me a piece of land, because land sales werent doing too good around here. I increased to 830 acres, which is a pretty good sizeable chunk. But its not all useable. Its rough land a little bit of it.
16
00:03:37.9
In the cow business you cant afford to go lease and go put brand new fences on it and everything. I mean, per acre cost thousands of dollars to fence the land. Its not cost-effective just to go in and get you a one-year-lease, and fence it in. It just doesnt work that way. The cowman is probably the least destructive of property, of any use there is. But it takes a lot of land to raise a cow. Everybodys got this one-acre-per-cow thing. Its one acre of improved pasture per cow, but in the rougher land it can run thirty to forty to fifty per cow, you know? So, the cattleman is probably the best steward of the land, but he is probably one of biggest consumers of the land.
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00:04:20.3
WM: Okay. So the land that you have your cattle on is it leased or do you own it?
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00:04:24.8
KM: Its all leased except for about eleven acres of it. We own eleven acres and everything else is all leased.
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00:04:32.4
WM: How hasI dont know what to call iturban sprawlencroaching suburbs, how has that effected your cattle operation?
20
00:04:43.0
KM: Its made it every tough to find more leases. And its really, really hurt a lot of the cattlemen. A lot of them just went flat-out of it. There are very fewand I know of nonefull time cattlemen left in Manatee County, that, thats all they do. They all supplement their cattle operation with work. There might be some semi-retired. Dont get me wrong; they did something else for a living. There are not any full time cattlemen left in Manatee County that I know of.
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00:05:13.9
WM: Is that because they cant find enough land to
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00:05:19.1
KM: Yes, they cant find enough land for a low enough price, because of the tax deals too, you know? The landowner demands a certain amount of money from his land, because hes got to pay those taxes. It makes it pretty tough, cause the tax laws have changed to where it is no longer so much green-belted as it is best use. You know a piece of property that you and I see as cow pasture and swamp; the best use to the county tax people might be four houses per acre. So, they have a formula they use and the taxes have risen quite a bit. And that kinds of runs the cattlemen out too cause he can no longer lease the land for a reasonable enough price to make some money.
23
00:06:3.7
So, you know, its kind of a twofold thing. You cant blame the landowners. Even the cattlemen, who sold their land off, you cant blame them. They can make more money off of the high land prices than theyll ever make running cattle.
24
00:06:16.3
WM: How long have you been ranching in this area?
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00:06:20.7
KM: Ive personally been ranching this area fortwenty-four years.
26
00:06:30.8
WM: Tell me about how it has changed here since you started ranching.
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00:06:39.6
KM: Well, the houses have just filled in all of the gaps. I mean just between Parrish and Ellenton alone, literally every piece of property between here and there has been sold for development slated for development. Yes, theres a few cattle on there but its only because of this little building snafu weve had. Its just a matter of a year; two years, three years and theyll be right back on track and those cattle and those cattlemen will be gone. I mean, because theyll be competing with other people, further out to try to get leases and the leases arent there. I mean the lands not there. Its just flat not, you know.
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00:07:20.5
WM: When did you notice that? When did it start effecting you?
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00:07:24.5
KM: About five years ago it really seemed to really start turning on. We saw land prices just go from, you know, for years, in Parrish you could buy five acres for 10,000 dollars an acre, pretty easily. As a matter of fact, this piece right beside me sold for 40,000 dollars justoh probably seven or eight years ago. And now, all of a sudden that same piece of property, over here, they want 320,000 for it.
30
00:07:51.1
So itsIt did it quick. When it went straight out of sight. Some big landowners sold out. You know, its not their fault. Like I said, they got so much money for their land, you cant blame them. Their kids are multi-millionaires now.
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WM: Okay. So it was about five years ago that the development starting, pushing in. How did that effect you?
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KM: It made leases extremely hard to find. You were always; it seemed like, behind the eight ball. You always found out about the lease after somebody else got it or after it got slated for development. You were always behind the gun. At one point it looked like we were going to have to cut our herd down to next to nothing. Between that and Mother Natures droughts last couple of years, it looked pretty bad for a while.
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00:08:39.7
WM: And soI guess, if you canhave there been instances where youve been leasing land and its been sold out from under you?
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00:08:50.8
KM: Yes, there have been a few places but I havent been affected by that as much some of the other cattlemen. Mine, fortunately, was under contract. Two of the places that I had were actually under contract and they had put money down on them. When things went bad here, about a year ago, the buyers walked away from it. They lost more money than I will make in a lifetime on cattle, by walking away. But land that I could have bought six or seven or eight years ago for 250,00 dollars, for fifty acres, suddenly is 3 million dollars. (chuckles) But you know
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00:09:37.5
WM: (laughs) Yeah, I cant imagine that much money in one place.
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00:09:40.0
KM: Right. And it happened very quickly too. This one piece of property that I leased over here, about fifty acres, that Im not currently using but Ive got it kind of like on standby. The drought has affected it a lot. Its got a little swamp in the back of it and really, really hurt that piece of property, the environment. It doesnt hardly have any grass on it.
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00:10:2.0
But Ive been leasing it now for aboutten years, somewhere near nine or ten years, and it was for sale. I understand the man put several hundred thousand dollars in the property and then walked away. I could have bought it for what he put down on it, eight or nine years ago. Of course I didnt have the money anyway. (laughs)
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WM: So, lets see, how has the Cattlemens Association worked to help the ranchers?
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KM: Its a pretty tight knit group. Theyve done the best they can but they are in the same boat that Im in. They are cattlemen and theyre not going to say, Hey, my neighbor over there has got 175 acres and hes fixing to run his cows off of it and you can lease it. That dont happen. Theyll lease it, you know. Actually leases are pretty wellnobody tries to step on anybodys lease.
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Nobody runs in there when somebodys got a lease and says, Hes paying fifteen dollars per acre a year, Ill give you sixteen. I havent seen that. Nobodys been cutthroat or anything about it. Seems like when you get on you keep it. Unless you make the landowner mad, some way or another, or development moves in. But the new ones arent coming up.
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A lot of issues. SWIFTMUD [Southwest Florida Water Manage District]. You know SWIFTMUD has bought thousands of acres in Manatee County. Thats a problem. Its something I dont quite understand. They buy the land, then they take it out of the tax rolls and then they run the cattlemen off of it and then they start mowing it. To me thats kind of counter productive. (laughs)
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WM: Well, it does seem like they could get more use out of it if they let cattle graze on it.
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KM: Especially when they say they dont have enough money in their budget to mow it, or burn it or anything and here they got somebody willing to do it. The bombing range over there, Avon Park Bombing Range, they have leases that are open every year, but its too far for me to commute. And the lands real poor over there, but I got to admit, they lease everything they can lease and they do it right. They maintain the fences and prescribe how many cows you can put on it and they burn it.
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I dont quite understand why SWIFTMUD or somebody doesnt step-up to the plate. I understand they own six million acres or something like that, in Florida. Thats a lot of cattle land. Im sure some of it is in cattle, but it took them a long time to come around and there is still a lot thats not in cattle. And thats kind of hurt. You think about the public purchases of land, Duette Park and things like that. You take twenty, thirty, forty thousand acres out of the equation that kind of hurts pretty quick.
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WM: Youve not been leasing land thats been sold?
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KM: No. I was under the gun, twice in the last two or three years. In other words, there was land that I was leasing that was for sale and had sold but did not close.
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00:13:5.9
WM: Okay.
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KM: It got all the way to closing and the man that owned itI had already made a deal with the new land owner to continue leasing until he developed it and he called me about four days before the closing. I knew it before the realtor that he was not going to close. He was going to walk away from the table.
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WM: That must have caused some anxiety to think that the land you had your cattle on was going to be sold. What do you do in that situation?
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00:13:32.3
KM: Well you always try to negotiate with the future landowner, at least a few months to remove some of your stuff and let him know that you do have items on there; cows and fences and pens and stuff. So far the couple of times that it has happened, the owners, the future owners, or buyers, were pretty cooperative. Because they knew they couldnt do anything that quickly any way. So they were going to give me a while. One offered me the same lease, right on for another year or two, until he developed it. Then he backed out. That was the one that backed out four days before the closing.
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But, you know, I called him and told him I got a notice from a lawyer that I had thirty days to remove everything. I had a big set of cow pens on there that took me a week to pull off. I said, Before I remove anything let me find out who this future owner is going to be and let me talk to him. Fortunately I got a hold of him and he said, Oh no, dont remove anything. Dont pay any attention to the lawyer. He doesnt know whats going on. I do.
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WM: Okay.
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KM: He was very, very kind. And like I said, I knew before the realtor that he wasnt going to close. (laughs)
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WM: What about some of your colleagues? Have there been instances where the land was
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KM: Oh yes.
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WM: Tell me about that. And if you can be specific and mention names thatd be great but if youd rather
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KM: Well, some of the deals I dont completely know or understand. But I know that a lot of them, what theyre doing is the developer comes in and buysI know one guy that bought 200 and some acres over here and as they developed it, he had to build new fence. Well, you know, when you go building a mile of fencethats about 4 or 5,000 dollars to build a mile of fence. Hes had to move, of course he re-uses itif he can, but hes still had all of the labor of tearing it down and putting it back up again. But hes moved that fence, I think two or three times now.
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And hes down to just about the bottom dollar now. I think of the original 225 acres hes left with about fifty acres of mucky swamp. So its happened to a lot of people. I just didnt get caught in it. I camelike I saidvery close. Within four days. (laughs)
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WM: Well, tell me aboutin that instance, the guy had to keep contracting his pastureland to accommodate the developer. What are some other examples?
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KM: I know I believe that L. V. Moran had to turn around and, I think, he had to cull a herd down to next to nothing. You knowsell off older cows and go through them and thin them out. And hes probably one of the largest leasers around of small little pieces, around here. I know hes had to cull down and I know Charlie Brown has too.
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00:16:18.0
Hes had to literally sell off mama cows, which is like selling off your profit. Now he might pick the older ones or the ones that are not quite as healthy, or dont calf as well. But still, every time you sell one of those mama cows thats making babies your selling part of your future profit. You might sell her and she might go over to the market and calf the following week. So, you know, thats a hard thing to take. I was to that point at one time. I thought I was going to have to sell my herd down to about twenty, twenty-five head. Fortunately it didnt happen.
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And when we lease something, we try to keep it right on, even if it is something were not using. Weve gotnot a whole lot of landbut weve got sixty-some acres, sixty-five acres that we have leased that we dont have a cow on. Theres nothing on it. Its just in case. Because we know that things are always changing, you know? Usually you get a years lease, but this last piece I leased was a six-month lease, with ninety-days notice to leave.
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So, I literally could get a notice next week, Okay, thats it. Youre gone. In ninety days, after I just put all the panels and pens and built fence on it and got it all mowed and everything, which cost me hundreds and hundreds of dollars, Id have to leave.
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WM: Wow! So youve got a backup pasture?
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KM: Right. Ive always tried to maintainyou know, its been nice to have everything full, but with the economy and everything today, I kind of need it to where I can throw around here and there. Its like this, I actually lease a piece of property next to me, thats only three acres, just in case I need more grass for my horses. I dont even need it. It cost me hundreds of dollars every couple of months to lease that little three-acre piece. I pay her taxes on it, and its very high. But, its just so I can put those horses on that three acres if I need it. So I try to run backups so I dont get caught.
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00:18:19.0
Like, in Tennessee right now, hay is up to forty dollars a roll. Its normally twenty to twenty-five. Here its probably sixty to seventy dollars a roll and its normally thirty to thirty-five.
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WM: So its about doubled.
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KM: Oh yes! Hay is in great demand, because of the drought, grass not growing and over-grazing, people over-grazing. I try not to over-graze.
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WM: Well, do your colleagues have back-up pastures as well?
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KM: The larger ones do. They may have cows in a pasture but they are not necessarily grazing it to its fullest extent. They probably have a place where theyve got twenty head or ten head on it, where it could hold thirty head or forty head. So yes, if they have to disperse this fifty head herd over here, they can put twenty here and fifteen there. But you know, when you start penning cows and moving cows and moving babies, its very disruptive to the business. Those herds go together. Whenever I go and buy, say, five more cows, it takes a little while for those to herd up with those other cows, and some of them never do.
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00:19:27.8
So whenever you go to work them, rather than having to work hard I can go in there and throw pellets in there and get 95 percent of them in and go through there with a horse and a dog and put the rest of them in.
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Well, when youve got these herds that split off of each other it makes moving them around ten times harder. I mean, people dont realize how many trips it takes just to move a 100 head herd. When you only get five or six cows in a trailer, it aint no fast move. Its a lot of fuel, a lot time and a lot of effort by somebody to move them. We had five trailers moving cows for a whole day. Just moving cows from one pasture to another.
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WM: Wow.
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KM: Its quite an operation.
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WM: You told me about the land where you have your cattle now, this is the one that was going to sell and the guy backed out. So, tell me why its not suitable for development, if you dont mind.
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KM: Well I wont say its suitable for development. Im not a good judge of that. To me, there is a lot of marshland in this area. Its a very marshy area and I think that the road access is a little bit narrow, I dont see how youre going to be able to develop a piece of property and build a road through this thing, the way it is. The road access is virtually nonexistent. I mean its a large piece of property thats two miles wide and three-quarters of a mile thick, but at the road its 500 feet. Its very narrow and some of that is power lines, so I think it will be a while before it will be developed. I think that it may end up tying to the next piece of property and when they develop that, they will develop this one.
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00:21:12.6
Plus, its right on the line too. When something is out on the edge of the county line, Hillsborough and Manatee and there is no access directly to I-75, thats got to be an issue. A lot of the people that move into this area that work in Tampa or St. Pete, that 75 access is very important to them. Well in order to get to I-75 from that piece of property you got to drive ten, fifteen miles around in circles to do it. So its not an easy piece of property to get back on.
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And, more than likely, if youre headed north, youve got to go five or six miles south, before you get to go north. So that just made a twelve-mile trip before you got to where you just came from. So thats why I feel like its not going to be a quickly developed piece of property.
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WM: So you feel fairly comfortable with that.
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KM: For a few years. You know, but if this land thing picks back up again, who knows?
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WM: So, when and if they sell this land will you use those acres, those backup acres?
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KM: Oh yes, Ill go right back to those. The first thing Ill do is try to negotiate with the developer, or whoever purchases it to use part of it, perhaps the back half of it, or something. Cause its got some really large pastures in it and they are all divided. That will hold my herd for quite a while. Then when it comes all the way to the end then Ill probably have to move them back over here and cull some of the older ones. You know I have some older cows.
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WM: So youll have to reduce
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00:23:8.8
KM: Reduce the herd. Which means losing future money, future revenue I mean. Because beef is going to go up. Beef is not going to go down, its going to go up. Oh, everybody says were on a five-year high right now, cause it is very high right now, compared to what its been. But I think because of the producersFlorida is a very big producer of calves. I think because of the reduction of land, that is usable by the cattlemen and the number of people getting out of it, I truly believe that the price of beef is going to stay high, high and then probably go up. Its like urban sprawl is its own worst enemy.
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00:23:48.1
Its much like the corn situation. You know Ive got land in Tennessee too. The corn situation is kind of unique to me. Were making ethanol out of corn, so corn is in demand up there, so every farmer around there is turning all of his land into corn and quit raising cotton, and soybeans and everything else and hay. So all of those commodities have gone right up with the corn.
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00:24:17.3
I think thats whats going to happen here. Theres going to be less producers and more people consuming and its just going to go up. And less land to put on. Like I said, were big land users but we dont do a lot with the land that we use. I mean, we hardly ever fertilize. The best thing a cattleman can have is a mower.
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WM: Whats that you said? You told me something about mowing?
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KM: Oh, mowing is truly the best thing you can do to a pasture. It really is. It does better than doing anything else. I see these people diskingup and planting exotic grasses and all, thats fine if youthats very labor intensive. Youre talking about a lot of fuel and a lot of use. Those kinds of grasses, Ive found through the years, require a lot of maintenance. They require maintenance every yearfertilizer.
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00:25:8.7
I havent bought fertilizer in my life. All I do is mow. Ive found that if you stress a pasture and then move the cows off of it and then go in there and drag it, then when it comes up a little weedy mow it. It seems like that pasture does better. You know, its like the old adage about burning. You burn a pasture and it comes back three times greener and thicker than it did before. And thats about what stressing one does. I think it does a very similar thing to burning it.
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00:25:37.1
WM: When you say you drag it
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KM: I have a large chain metal drag that I pull behind the tractor that is basically a no-brainer. You get in the tractor and drive around as fast as you can. (laughs) But when a pasture is down low, and it has rained it is almost like you poured fertilizer on the pasture. I mean it literally is. You would not believe how much it grows within a week. I mean it just jumps up there like you fertilized it. Cause you did! You just put cow manure on it. But instead of having it in clumps, you scattered it throughout the whole pasture. You have to have a short pasture in order to do that, because youll never get the clumps to break up.
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So its got to be a little stressed, down low and then a rain. Then you go in there and re-drag it. Then when weeds come up, you mow them in October, September or October, that time coming into the fall. They dont return real well. So you can control most of your weeds and stuff by doing that.
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WM: But, I mean, has the Cattlemans Association addressed zoning issues land use policies?
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KM: Im not aware of them doing that. On the state level, maybe they have, put I dont think on the county level they have, really. Manatee CountyI think all of the coastal counties, Manatee County included, I think theI saw some numbers back, probably in the nineties [1990s] of what kind of money agriculture brought into the community and it was way more than tourism. I mean it was like 60 percent of the product was agriculture. You know, grovescitrus, vegetable, ornamentals, flowers, nurseries of all types and cattle.
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I think they live in the world of denial. I really dont believe that they understand how important agriculture is to Manatee County. I think they have really forgotten it in the last five years. The land thing and everything going up has become their big concern. How many schools, how many houses, how many more roads do they need? And I dont see any way to feather back the building. I dont see any way to control it.
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They keep saying they can be sued because if they allow this guy to build and next door they say, On no, no. Were over our quota of homes. Well they can be sued because they wouldnt let that guy sell his property and develop. So I guess they are between a rock and a hard place. You know? They have no choice. They have to allow the land to be developed and they dont seem to be able to control the amount and where it is developed at.
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WM: Have theyworked with the farmers or talked with the ranchers about that?
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KM: No. Because some of the land that Ive seen them try to develop, and Ive actually been to some of the meetings, and the county didnt throw up the roadblocks they should have. And said, Hey, this is way too wet. Come on now! There was a piece of propertyI went to a meeting over here off of [State Road] 62, it runs from 62 to [Highway] 675.
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WM: Is 62 a street or a state road?
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KM: State Road 62 and then Highway 675, which I guess is a county road. The piece of property ran between the two of them and in the middle of it was Gamble Creek. This piece of property gets so wet during the wet season, you could watch hay bales float on it.
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I mean this is a very, extremely wet piece of property. So much so that when the developer gave us the overhead view of the houses that were going to be put on it, they were literally on islands in this piece of property, I mean they were literally little roads with islands and water all around them. I think it wasIm going to say 3 or 400 acres, maybe 500 acres. Its about a mile between there and its a long narrow piece of property. In my opinion I think the county should have said, You know what, there aint enough dry ground on this thing. You cant even mitigate this thing. Come on now, this is wetlands. It will always be wetlands. Leave it alone.
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But oh no, they kept on playing around and playing around, but I think there were enough people complaining about how wet it was going to be. The water literally goes over the road. I asked them. I said How high are you going to build this road out here?
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I said, The water gets two foot over the road there, on that corner, exactly where you want to come out. How are people going to get in and out during a hurricane? Those were some of theand I raised then. And I think it ended up dying because there were too many people in that room. And they werent just mad because they were developing, cause they were developing everywhere. But that was a piece of property that had no business being developed.
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And the county just stood there and watched it all happen. They didnt ask the right questions. They should have told them no. They should have told them, There are just too many issues. Well give you building permits for four houses on the dry ground along the road and thats it. Thats what they should have told them, Thats all youre going to get. But they didnt throw enough roadblocks in.
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Currently its being used for cattle. Which is what it should be used for. During the wet season them cows got to have canoes, just about. (laughs) But during most of the year its good grass and all. I mean its being used exactly for what it should be. Its either that or a rice paddy, one of the two. (laughs) You know? But I sometimes think that we have a little bit of greed disguised as progress in the county.
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WM: Could you explain that a little bit more?
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KM: I think we grew too fast. I think that even when the governor realized, he was trying to throw roadblocks in there about schools and roads and things like that. They were almost fighting it, you know? No, we cant do that.
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Thats something I wasnt very appreciative of. I think they should have followed it to the letter of the law and said, No development until we get the schools in and we get the roads in. We dont care who pays for them. If you want your development put here you better buy the road. You know? If you need two miles of road down here, youd better build it and build it up to county so it is a good road.
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We got roads all over the place that they are building developments on today that are F roads, meaning failing, in Manatee County. And they are just putting an entrance on it. Thats not fixing the roads. And they all say, Well, you know nobody did that when you moved here. When I moved here it wasnt a problem. Now its a problem if you want to get your development built.
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And you know what? I think that you wouldnt see them slow down. I think theyd still be doing it, theyd just be fixing the road. They want the current taxpayers to pay the bill. I dont need that road any better than what it is. I didnt need it thirty years ago. I didnt even need it to be paved. It was a dirt most of my life. Are the ones that need it, not me.
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Like I said, even the governor tried to throw roadblocks in, aboutI think it was fire departments, public schools and inter-structural roads and water and stuff. And even he tried to throw a roadblock in it. They actuallythe meetings I went to they were kind of mad about it.
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WM: They being?
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KM: The county commissioners.
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WM: Okay.
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KM: Who have the final say, regardless. I mean, they can step overIve seen them step over the planning and zoning and Ive seen planning and zoning do things, theyre the first ones that are supposed to turn something down. Too many things have gone to the county commissioners that never should have gotten to that point. Thats my opinion, but Im not the only one that shares that opinion.
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WM: Well if it is any comfort, Ive heard other people say that about Hillsborough County.
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KM: I think it is. But, you know, they keep telling me its progress. I keep telling them I think its greed disguised as progress. You like using that progress word a lot.
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WM: I guess it might be progress for some people, but not necessarily for everyone.
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KM: I dont want Parrish like it was in the 1950s. I realize things are going to change. But things should always change for the better, not for the worse. We shouldnt have kids today that are in classrooms the day the school is built. The day it opens up, the portables open up. There is a problem with that. (laughs)
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WM: Well, what was Parrish like in the 1950s?
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KM: I wasnt here.
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WM: Okay.
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KM: But a good friend of mine, George, that you met before
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WM: George Massingale?
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KM: Yes, George Massingale. His dad bought the filling station right here on the corner of State Road 62, when they moved to Parrish in, I think, 1954, or fifty-six [1956]. It was very rural, a very rural area.
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I know when I lived here in 1970, seventy-one [1971] it was very rural. I know people hear this story, but I literally walked about a mile to the school bus. As a matter of fact, it was exactly a mile. If I cut through the cow pasture it was about eight-tenths of a mile. And it took me fifteen minutes to walk it, walking slow, like a kid will.
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The road was about two-miles long then and it turned then to dirt, on Erie Road. And I knew just about everybody that drove down that road. There were many, many days where I walked that fifteen minutes, one way or the other to school and I never saw a car. Today you cant even get out on that road. That was seventy-one [1971], seventy-two [1972], three [1973], four [1974]it really didnt change much until, probably the late eighties [1980s], early nineties [1990s]. Thats really when it changed the most, when some of these other developments started filling in back in the back here. But until that point, you about knew who everybody was.
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WM: So its really taken off?
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KM: Oh yes, it has taken off.
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WM: So what do you foresee in the future?
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KM: Scary numbers here. They estimatecurrently what they are calling the build-out of this area, currently theres about 50,000 people that live in what they call the build-out area. Which is roughly from Ellenton to the Hillsborough County line, up there where my property is, that big piece Ive leased, to where my other lease is at, up by the power plant. A line drawn from there to Lake Manatee. They said thats about 50,000 people. They are estimating in 2032, for it to be 265,000 people. So just imagine this, times five. Its a little scary.
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WM: I guess that would kind of put a hurt on your ranching?
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KM: I wont be here. Im literally moving. I know that it will, so Im moving up to Tennessee, where there is still agricultural land and the way of life hasnt changed too much. We, unfortunatelythere are a lot of people from Florida that are moving to that area of Tennessee. Its a farming area. Its not east Tennessee, Dollywood and the mountains. Its way over in west Tennessee. Its very farming and very rural area.
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We have actually bought so much land up there, family members and such, that weve drove the price of land up. Unfortunately weve created our own market. (laughs) We didnt like it that way, but it happened.
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WM: So these people are literally moving from this agricultural area to that agricultural area?
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KM: Yes. Youve got people that are selling orange groves and in Myakka City that, you know, theyI dont know what they got for the orange groves, and I dont know how big the orange grove was but it was a fairly sizeable orange grove. They literally traded that, it was a land swap for five thousand acres in west Tennessee. And they still have millions of dollars in their pockets.
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So why wouldnt they? You know, I meanlike I said they made so much money off of that property and ended up with a humongous piece of property up there. The climate, it gets warm in the summer and cold in the winter. Rarely snows. Has the chance of tornadoes, of course we have hurricanes, so, you know.
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WM: You said that you all would be moving to Tennessee, do you have any idea when that will be?
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KM: Six to eight years, probably.
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WM: Six to eight years?
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KM: Yeah.
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WM: Do you think that this area will be built-out by then?
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KM: Not to that 260 some but it will be too thick for us, if this next land thing happens. I know the last time I heard the numbers there was about 30,000 homes approved that have not been built yet. Using that number and using the two and a half, or three and a half people per place and five trips a day on the road, you can imagine just what those 30,000 homes will do. Youre still talking about 90,000 people, roughly. Thats like doubling whats already here. Thats nowhere near that 260, but thats too many for me. (laughs) Ive always lived in a rural area. When I was a young boy I lived on Cattlemens Road, off of Cattlemens Road, in Sarasota and it was literally dirt roads and country everywhere.
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I went to Fruitville Elementary [School]. Its kind of funny. The school I went to is now a National Monument or Historical Monument, and the church I went to, downtown there in Fruitville, a little Baptist church, has now got a historical marker in front of it. A few years ago I drove by there and told my little brother, a few years ago, I drove by there and said, This is where I went to school, do you remember? Cause he was real young, he was only one or two. And he says Wow! Its got a historical marker. And I drove down to the church and said, Now that makes me feel old. (laughs)
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WM: Well there are a lot of changes going on it is interesting to hear that you would move from your home to another place, to escape sprawl.
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KM: Oh yeah. And actually, most of my family. My oldest stepdaughter has already bought land up there her and her husband. My little brother bought right around the corner form me. Some of my very best friends live right across the street from me. They bought land already and theyve already started building some stuff up there. And a couple of the guys I work with, one of them bought right beside me and the other one bought down the road from me.
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WM: Will you continue working cattle up in Tennessee?
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KM: Probably so, yeah. Its in your blood. (laughs) Too many generations been doing it.
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WM: Well, thats one way to deal with sprawl, I suppose, is to flee it.
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KM: Theyll come a day where you wont be able to do that, but I mean, you knowHere leasing the land has caused these problems. But none of my family ever had the money to own it all. Lets face it, poor crackers, they didnt have that kind of money.
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If you research most of these large ranchers, most of these large places were bought in the thirties [1930s], forties [1940s] and fifties [1950s] by people from up north. The people that lived down here when my family lived down here, they didnt have any money, they didnt have anything. They were poor, very poor, proud, but poor. They didnt have any kind of money. Oh, one or two might have a100 acres here or fifty acres there, or something. But they never had the kind of money to buy thousands of acres to raise cattle on.
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And the land was so easy to lease back then. It was no big deal. A lot of land wasnt even leased it was just used. They just used it. You got to realize Florida didnt have fence laws until after World War Two. So ranchingthey talk about the Old West, but really the Old West was down south is what it was.
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WM: One other question, you can lease the land and still make money?
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KM: Oh yes, as long as you keep the leases reasonable. I mean there is a point at where you can no longer make money. And when it gets to that point, I wont do it. I love the life, but if Im not making money, Im not in it. Theres been years when we didnt make very much money, when cattle prices were way down. If you dont make money at it, you cant continue to do it but so long. I mean how many of the small farmers have you seen, just walk away because they just couldnt make the money, you know?
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WM: Most of them.
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KM: Theres very few small farmers now. Thats one thing we noticed about the people from Florida that are moving into Tennessee. The realtor that Ive done business with has told me it is so much different than the people hes dealt with before, where theyve bought 100 acres and said Okay, how many five acre pieces will this break into? The people from Florida that are moving up there now will buy the 100 acres and then look across the street and say, Hey, is that for sale too? He said its definitely a difference.
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The land prices are what Florida was twenty, twenty-five years ago. But now Ive made the kind of money where I can afford those twenty-year-ago prices. Im not behind the gun like I was most of my life, where I couldnt afford to buy hardly anything. I cant complain. Ill make good money off of what I sell in Florida. The little bit I own, Ill make very good money off of it.
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WM: Okay.
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KM: And buy more.
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WM: Thats good to know. Well Ive been throwing questions at you for about the past hour. Is there anything you want to say on that I havent asked you about?
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KM: No, not really. No.
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WM: Okay. I always thank people for taking the time to talk with me. And remind you that the information you shared with me is going to be deposited in the University of South Floridas Special Collections, in the library. Be available for researchers to use. We need your permission for them to have access to it.
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KM: Of course youll have it.
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WM: Okay great.
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KM: Hope I was of help.
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WM: Oh yeah. Its been a blast. Let me shut this thing off.



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C O P Y R I G H T N O T I C E T h i s O r a l H i s t o r y i s c o p y r i g h t e d b y t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a L i b r a r i e s O r a l H i s t o r y P r o g r a m o n b e h a l f o f t h e B o a r d o f T r u s t e e s o f t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a C o p y r i g h t 2 0 0 7 U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a A l l r i g h t s r e s e r v e d T h i s o r a l h i s t o r y m a y b e u s e d f o r r e s e a r c h i n s t r u c t i o n a n d p r i v a t e s t u d y u n d e r t h e p r o v i s i o n s o f t h e F a i r U s e F a i r U s e i s a p r o v i s i o n o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s C o p y r i g h t L a w ( U n i t e d S t a t e s C o d e T i t l e 1 7 s e c t i o n 1 0 7 ) w h i c h a l l o w s l i m i t e d u s e o f c o p y r i g h t e d m a t e r i a l s u n d e r c e r t a i n c o n d i t i o n s F a i r U s e l i m i t s t h e a m o u n t o f m a t e r i a l t h a t m a y b e u s e d F o r a l l o t h e r p e r m i s s i o n s a n d r e q u e s t s c o n t a c t t h e U N I V E R S I T Y O F S O U T H F L O R I D A L I B R A R I E S O R A L H I S T O R Y P R O G R A M a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a 4 2 0 2 E F o w l e r A v e n u e L I B 1 2 2 T a m p a F L 3 3 6 2 0

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Land Use Oral History Project Patel Center for Global Solutions University of South Florida Interview with: Mr. Kenneth McClain Interviewed by: William Mansfield Location: Parrish, Florida Date: June 26, 2007 Transcribed by: Wm. Mansfield Edited by: Wm. Mansfield Audit Edited by: Kyle Bradford Burke Audit Edit Date: February 4, 2008 Final Edit by: Nicole Cox Final Edit Date: February 5, 2008 WM: This is Bill Mansfield from the Special Collections Library of the University of South Florida and McClain, here in Parrish, Florida on June 26, 2007. Mr. Mclain is a cattle rancher and we want to talk with him about pasturing his cattle and his response to urban sprawl. The first thing w e ask everybody to do is have them state their name and tell us when they were born and where they were born, so let her go. KM : My name is Kenneth Layton(??) or Leighton(??) Worth McClain and I was born in Jacksonville, Florida on May 24, 1960. WM: Okay I know that you ranch but you also have a day job, a regular job? eight years. WM: Wow! Okay, Tell me about your ranching operation. KM: Well, we run about oh fort y five, fifty head of mama cows in one herd. And at forty head of mama cows in the other herd. calf operation. The type of cattle [I have] are crossbred. The bulls are Beefmaster bulls. We feel that they are more heat tolerant and ten d to stay in the pasture a little better than some of the other breeds. calf operation is, could you explain that please?

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2 KM: Yes. We actually take none of our cows to slaughter, unless we have issue s with them [like if] they quit calving or something. We raise the calves up we get about one calf a year per cow. The gestation period is nine months. And at about five months old, we use the one The [calves] are auctioned off and they are usually taken up towards Georgia, shots and [where they] ca strate the bull calves. They separate [the calves] out into herds that are similar size, similar breeding, similar body types. Then once [the calves] are conditioned for a few months they take them out west for them to become fattened and turned into beef. WM: Okay. So the cow calf means you have the cows and sell off the calves. KM: Sell y head. WM: Okay. Tell me about the land around here that you pasture them on. w a little bit at the time. You know, hold a few of our heifer calves back, for cows. And growing a cowherd up. ime something comes up we always either bid on, or I try to lease it, or something. We got up to about one hundred acres. A few months ago, a gentleman came to me and offered me a piece of land, because land I increased [our holdings] to eight little bit of it is rough land. every thing. I mean, per acre cost thousands of dollars to fence the land. effective just to go in and get you a one year lease, and fence it in. It just use acre per it can run [to] thirty to forty to fifty [acres] per cow, you know?

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3 So, the cattleman is probably the best steward of the land, but he is probably one of biggest consumers of the land. WM: Okay. So the land that you have your cattle on is it leased or do you own it? n eleven acres and everything else is all leased. WM: How has urban sprawl encroaching suburbs, how has that effected your cattle operation? of the cattlemen. A lot of them just went flat out of it. There are very few and I know of none supplement their cattle operation with work. There might be some semi retired [m en]. time cattlemen left in Manatee County that I know of. rice, because of the tax deals too, you know? The landowner demands a certain amount of money from his land, belted" a as cow pasture and swamp; the best use to the county tax people might be ah four houses per acre. So, they have a formula they use and the taxes have risen quite a bit. And that kinds of r reasonable enough price to make some money. blame th make running cattle. WM: How long have you been ranching in this area? twenty four years. WM: Tell me about how it has changed her e since you started ranching. KM: Well, the houses have just filled in all of the gaps. I mean just between Parrish and Ellenton alone, literally every piece of property between here and there has been sold for

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4 development [or] slated for development. Yes gone. I mean, because th WM: When did you notice that? When did it start effecting you? KM: About five years ago [2002] i t really seemed to really start turning on. We saw land prices just go from you know for years, in Parrish you could buy five acres for ten thousand dollars an acre, pretty easily. As a matter of fact, this piece [of land] right beside me sold for forty th ousand dollars just oh probably seven or eight years ago. And now, all of a sudden that same piece of property, over here, they want three hundred and twenty thousand dollars for it. WM: Mmm! It did it quick. When [prices went up] it went str aight out of sight. Some big landowners sold out. You know millionaires now. WM: Okay. So it was about five years ago that the development [was] starting, pushing in. How did that effect you? KM: It made leases extremely hard to find. You were always; it seemed like, behind the eight ball. You always found out about the lease after somebody else got it or after it got slated for development You were always [under] the gun. At one point it looked like we were going to have to cut our herd down to next to nothing. while. WM: And so I guess, if you ca n KM: Um much some of the other cattlemen. Mine, fortunately, was under contract. Tw o of the places that I had [leased] were actually under contract and they had put money down on them. When things went bad here, about a year ago, the ah buyers walked away from it. They lost more money than I will make in a lifetime on cattle, by walking away. But land that I could have bought six or seven or eight years ago for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, for fifty acres, suddenly [sells for] three million dollars. (chuckles) But you know

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5 in one place. KM: Right. And it happened very quickly too. This one piece of property that I leased amp in the back of it and [the any grass on it. ten years, somewhere near nine or ten years, and it was for sale. I underst and the [owner] put several hundred thousand dollars in the property and then walked away. I could have bought it for what he put down on it, eight or nine years ago. over there has got [a] hundred seventy you know. Actually leases are pretty well cutthroat or anything about it. Seems like when you get [a lease], you keep it. Unless you make the landowner mad, some way or anot her, or development moves in. But the new [There are] a lot of issues. SWIFTMUD [Southwest Florida Water Manage District]. You uite understand. They buy the land, then they take it out of the tax rolls and then they run the cattlemen off of it and then they start mowing it. WM: Well, it does seem like they could get more use out of it if they let cattle graze on it. or burn it or anything and here they got somebody willing to do it. The bombing range over there, Avon Park Bombing Range, they ha ve leases that are

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6 but I got to admit, they lease everything they can lease and they do it right. They maintain the fences and prescribe how many cows you can put on it and they burn it. up to the plate. I em a long time to come around Duette Park and things like that. You take twenty, thirty, forty thousand acres out of the equation that k ind of hurts [the cattleman] pretty quick. KM: No. I was under the gun, twice in the last two or three years. In other words, there was land that I was leasing that was for sale and had sold but did not close. WM: Okay. KM: It got all the way to closing and the man that owned it I had already made a deal with the new land owner to continue leasing until he developed it and he called me about four days before the closing. I knew it before the realtor tha t he was not going to close. He was going to walk away from the table. WM: That must have caused some anxiety to think that the land you had your cattle on was going to be sold. What do you do in that situation? KM: Well you always try to negotiate with the future landowner, [to get] at least a few months to remove some of your stuff and let him know that you do have items on there; cows and fences and pens and stuff. So far the couple of times that it has happened, the owners, the future owners, or buyer s, were pretty cooperative. Because they knew they a while. One offered me the same lease, right on for another year or two, until he developed it. Then he backed out. That was the one that backed out four days before the closing. But, you know, I called him and told him I got a notice from a lawyer that I had thirty days to remove everything. I had a big set of cow pens on there that took me a week to pull off. I sai WM: Okay.

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7 KM: He was very, very kind. And like I said, I knew before the realtor [did] that he WM: What about some of your colleagues? Have there been instances where the land was KM: Oh yes. WM: Tell me abou t that. KM: Um not WM: Uh huh. oper comes in and buys I know one guy that bought two hundred and some acres over here and as they developed it, he had to build new fence. Well, you know, when you go building a mile of fence ah about four or five thousand dollars to build a mile o to move, of course he re uses it I think two or three times now. I think of the original two hundred and twenty like I said very close. Within four days. (laughs) WM: Well, tell me ab out in that instance, the guy had to keep contracting his pastureland to accommodate the developer. What are some other examples? KM: Umm I know I believe that L. V. Moran(??) had to turn around and, I think, he had to cull a herd down to next to nothing. You know sell off older cows and go has too. hich is like selling off your profit. Now he might pick your future profit. You might sell her and she might go over to the market and calf the

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8 I was to that point at one time. I thought I was going to have to sell my herd down to about twenty, twenty five head. Fortunatel not a whole lot of land some acres, sixty in case. Because we know that things are always changing you know? Usually you get month lease, with ninety days notice to leave. WM: Umm. KM: So, I literally could get a leave. (chuckles ) full, but with the economy and everything today, I kind of need it to where I can throw [the cattle] around here and there. case I need more grass for my horses. little three acre piece. I p twen ty thirty five. KM: Oh yes! Hay is in great demand, because of the drought, grass not growing and over grazing, people over grazing. I try not to over graze. WM: Well, do your colleagues have back up pastures as well? KM: The larger ones do. They may have cows in a pasture but they are not necessarily o r ten head on it, where it could hold thirty head or forty head. So yes, if they have to disperse this fifty head herd over here, they can put twenty here and fifteen there.

PAGE 10

9 But you know, when you start penning cows and moving cows and moving babies, its very disruptive to the business. WM: Uh huh. KM: Those herds go together. Whenever I go and buy, say, five more cows, it takes a little while for those [new cows] to herd up with those other cows, and some of them never do. So whenever you go to work them, rather than having to work hard I can go in there and throw pellets in there and get 95 percent of [the cattle] in and go through there with a horse and a dog and [gather the rest of the cattle.] ach other it makes moving them of effort by somebody to move them. We had five trailers moving cows for a whole day. Just moving cows from one pasture to another. WM: Wow. WM: You told me about the land where you have your cattle now, this is the one that was a very marshy area and I think that the piece of property and build a road through this thing, the way it is. The road access is three before it will be developed. I th ink that it may end up tying to the next piece of property and when they develop that, they will develop this one. Hillsborough and Manatee and there is no access dir be an issue. A lot of the people that move into this area that work in Tampa or St. Pete, access to I 75 is very important to them. Well in order to get to I 75 from that piece of property you got to drive ten, fifte piece of property to get back on.

PAGE 11

10 before you get to go north. So that just made a twelve mile trip before yo u got to where you just came from. WM: Uh huh. WM: So you feel fairly comfortable with that. KM: For a few years. You know, but if this land thing picks back up a gain, who knows? [in the real estate market] was booming and they jumped on it. They informed me when I leased it that they were going to put it back up for sale in a ye ar and a half, but who knows? Things are not picking up so, it may be more than that before they even market it. It depends on how deep their pockets are really. (laughs) WM: So, when and if they sell this land will you use those acres, those backup acre s? developer, or whoever purchases it to use part of it, perhaps the back half of it, or all divided. That will hold my herd for quite a while. Then when it comes all the way to the end [of ones. You know I have some older cows. educe KM: Reduce the herd. Which means losing future money, future revenue I mean. up. high right now, Florida is a very big producer of calves. I think because of the reduction of land, that is usable by the cattlemen and the number of people getting out of it, I truly believ e that the price of beef enemy. anol out of corn, so corn is in demand up there, so every farmer around there is turning all of his land into corn [production] and

PAGE 12

11 [has] quit raising cotton, and soybeans and everything else. So all of those commodities have gone right up with the corn. ( chuckles) we use. I mean, we hardly ever fertilize. The best thing a cattleman can have is a mower. KM: Oh, mowing is truly the best thing you can do to a pasture. It really is. It does better than doin g anything else. I see these people disking up [their pastures] and planting require a lot of maintenance. They require maintenance every year fertilizer. pasture and then move the cows off of it and then go in there and drag it, then when it the old adage about burning. You burn a pasture and it comes back three times greener and thicker than it did before. think it does a very similar thing to burning it. WM: When you say you drag it KM: I have a large chain metal drag that I pull behind the tractor that is basically a no brainer. You get in the tractor and drive around as fast as you can. (laughs) But wh en a pasture is down low, and it has rained it is almost like you poured fertilizer on the pasture. I mean it literally is. You would not believe how much it grows within a week. I mean it just jumps up there like you fertilized it. just put cow manure on it. But instead of having it in clumps, you scattered it throughout the whole pasture. You have to have a short pasture in order to do low and then a rain. Then you go in there and re drag it. Then when weeds come up, you mow them in October, September or October, your weeds and stuff by doing that. use policies?

PAGE 13

12 Manatee County I think all of the coastal counties, Manatee County included, I think the I saw some numbers back, probably in the nineties of what kind of money agriculture brought into the community and it was way more than tourism. I mean it was like 60 percent of th e product was agriculture. You know, groves citrus, vegetable, ornamentals (flowers, nurseries of all types) and cattle. important agriculture is to Manatee County I think they have really forgotten it in the last five years. The land thing and everything going up has become their big concern. How any way to feather back the building. They keep saying they can be sued because if they allow this guy to build and next door d develop. So I guess they are between a rock and a hard place. You know? They have no choice. amount and where it is developed at. WM: Have they worked with the fa rmers or talked with the ranchers about that? too wet. There was a piece of property I went to a meeting over here off of [State Road] 62, it runs from 62 to [Highway] 675. WM: Is 62 a street? KM: State Road 62 and then Highway 675, which I guess is a county road. The piece of p roperty ran between the two of them and in the middle of it was Gamble Creek. This piece of property gets so wet during the wet season, you could watch hay bales float on it. I mean this is a very, extremely wet piece of property. So much so that when th e developer gave us the overhead view of the houses that were going to be put on it, they were literally on islands in this piece of property, I mean they were literally little roads with islands and water all around them. I think it was hree or four narrow piece of property.

PAGE 14

13 mitigate this thing. Come on now, this is But oh no, they kept on playing around and playing around. But I think there were enough people complaining about how wet it was going to be. The water liter ally goes back when it was built. road there, on that corner, exactly where you Those were some of the [issues]. And I raised [those questions]. I think it ended up dying because there were too many people in that room [opposed to developing everywhere. But that was a piece of property that had no business being developed. And the county just stood there and watched it all season them cows got to have canoes, just about. (laughs) But durin g most of the year or a rice paddy, one of the two. (laughs) You know? But I sometimes think that we have a little bit of greed disguised as progress in the co unty. WM: Could you explain that a little bit more? Side 1 ends; side 2 begins. KM: (sighs) I think we grew too fast. I think that even when the governor realized, he was trying to throw roadblocks in there about schools and roads and things like that. They roads in. We

PAGE 15

14 We got roads all ov development built. ant the current taxpayers to pay the bill. even need it to be paved. It was [a] dirt [road] most of my life. [The developers] are the ones that need it, not me Like I said, even the governor tried to throw roadblocks in, about I think it was fire departments, public schools and inter structural roads and water and stuff. And even he tried to throw a roadblock in it. They actually the meetings I went to they w ere kind of mad about it. KM: The county commissioners. WM: Okay. KM: Who have the final say, regardless. I mean, they can step over the first ones that are supposed to turn something down. Too many things have gone to the county commissioners that never should have gotten to that point. WM: Well if it i County. WM: I guess it might be progress for some people, but not necessarily for everyone. But things should always change for the better, not for the worse.

PAGE 16

15 ids today that are in [portable] classrooms the day the school is built. The day it opens up, the portables open up. There is a problem with that. (laughs) WM: Well, what was Parrish like in the 1950s? WM: Okay. KM: But a good friend of mine, George, that you met before WM: George Massingale? KM: Yes, George Massingale. His dad bought the filling station right here on the corner of State Road 62, when they moved to Parrish in, I think, 1954, or 56. It was very rural, a very rural a rea. I know when I lived here in 1970, 71 it was very rural. I know people hear this story, but I literally walked about a mile to the school bus. As a matter of fact, it was exactly a mile. If I cut through the cow pasture it was about eight tenths of a mile. And it took me fifteen minutes to walk it, walking slow, like a kid will. The road was about two miles long then and it turned then to dirt, on Erie Road. And I knew just about everybody that drove down that road. There were many, many days where I walked that fifteen minutes, one way or the other to school and I never saw a car. e most, when some of these other developments started filling in back in the back here. But until that point, you about knew who everybody was. KM: Oh yes, it has taken off. WM: So what do you foresee in the future? KM: S cary numbers here. They estimate currently what they are calling the build out of build out area. Which is roughly from Ellenton to the Hillsborough County line, up th ere thousand people. They are estimating in 2032, for it to be two hundred and sixty five thousand people.

PAGE 17

16 WM: Mmm! WM: I guess that would kind of put a hurt on your ranching? mo changed too much. We, unfortunately there are a lot of people from Florida that are moving to that area of llywood and the mountains. et. (laughs) WM: So these people are literally moving from this agricultural area to that agricultural area? know, they I the orange grove was but it was a fairly sizeable orange grove. They literally traded that, it was a land swap for five thousand acres in west Tennessee. And they still have millions of dollars in their pockets. like I said they made so much money off of that property and ended up with a humongous piece of property up there. The climate, it gets warm in the summer and cold in the winter. Rar ely snows. [It] has the chance of tornadoes, of course we have hurricanes, so, you know. WM: You said that you all would be moving to Tennessee, do you have any idea when that will be? KM: Six to eight years, probably. WM: Six to eight years? KM: Yeah. WM: Do you think that this area will be built out by then? KM: Not to that two hundred and sixty thousand, but it will be too big for us, if this next land thing happens.

PAGE 18

17 I know the last time I heard the numbers there was about thirty thousand homes ap proved that have not been built yet. Using that number and [estimating] two and a half, or three and a half people per [home] and five trips a day on the road, you can imagine just what y thousand people, (laughs) WM: Uh huh. everywhere. National Monument or Historical Monument, and the c hurch I went to, downtown there in Fruitville, a little Baptist church, has now got a historical marker in front of it. A few WM: Well there are a lot of changes going on it is interesting to hear that you would move from yo ur home to another place, to escape sprawl. KM: Oh yeah. And actually, most of my family [will do the same]. My oldest stepdaughter has already bought land up there [for] her and her husband. My little brother bought [land] right around the corner form me Some of my very best friends live right some stuff up there. And a couple of the guys I work with, one of them bought [land] right beside me and the other one bought down the road from me. WM: Will you continue working cattle up in Tennessee? Here leasing the land has caused these problems. But none of my family ever had the

PAGE 19

18 If you research m ost of these large ranchers, most of these large places were bought in the thirties, forties and fifties by people from up north. The people that lived down here They we re poor, very poor. Proud, but poor. WM: Uh huh. here or fifty acres there, or something. But they never had the kind of money to buy thousands of acres to raise cattle on. laws until after World War Two. So ranching they talk about the Old West, but really the Old West was down south is what it was. WM: One other question, you can lease the land and still make money? KM: Oh yes, as long as you keep the leases reasonable. I mean there is a point at where you can no longer make money. And when it I mean how many of the small farmers have you seen, just walk away because they just WM: Most of them. from Florida that are moving in The people fro m Florida, that are moving up there now will buy the hundred acres and difference. The land prices are what Florida was twenty, twenty e made the kind of money where I can afford those twenty year it I own,

PAGE 20

19 WM: Okay. KM: And buy more. KM: No, not reall y. No. WM: Okay. I always thank people for taking the time to talk with me. And [I] remind you that the information you shared with me is going to be deposited in the University of e for researchers to use. We need your permission for them to have access to it. WM: Okay great. KM: Hope I was of help. end of interview


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