Meet Alex and Liz Johns
Often times, when you ask a cattle producer about their career, they will expound upon the history of their land, their cattle and their family. America’s cattle farms and ranches are rich with soil that has seen the boots of many generations of cattlemen and women. The legacies built by cattle producers across the United States are an integral part of our nation’s history and, today, those same operations serve as the backbone of rural communities across the U.S.
Alex Johns, a cattle rancher in Okeechobee, Fla., shares the same passion as many producers in the industry. Alex can trace his family roots back to 1521 when cattle were first introduced in Florida. When he was 21, his father passed down management of their family’s ranch and, as an active member of the Seminole Tribe, he has been involved in the Tribe’s ranch since he was a child.
Currently, Alex and his wife, Liz, own First American Ranch. Alex is also a member of the Seminole Tribe cattle ranch, which is a co-op of 67 ranching families utilizing 110,000 acres to graze and feed cattle.
The Seminole Tribe cattle herd is diverse, ranging from commercial cow-calf production to registered Brangus seedstock. The tribe itself has approximately 4,000 members, and each member has one share of the cattle company. For the tribe, their commitment to serving their community is evident as they provide beef for Florida’s school lunch programs and at one time sold boxed beef to over 200 restaurants in southern Florida.
Technology is an integral part of the Tribe’s operation. Currently, each member of the co-op manages about 150 head of cattle, and they all utilize electronic identification to monitor their cattle. In addition, the tribe has gathered and recorded data on their cattle for 18 years, and they meet every year to share and review it. They use this data to improve the quality of their herds and the efficiency of their females.
The entire Seminole Tribe herd also uses Best Management Practices (BMPs) and test the water quality to ensure they are being good stewards of the land and leaving the natural resources better than they found them.
“Following all those Best Management Practices keeps the land pristine, keeps the cattle in good health and keeps us from degrading the property,” Alex said.
It is evident that Alex is passionate about raising quality cattle and takes pride in his Seminole roots. In fact, he credits cattle production for being the reason his Tribe exists today.
“I am extremely proud to be involved in the cattle industry and the reason is there would not be a Seminole Tribe today if we were not in the cattle business,” Alex said. “I feel like the cow is what kept us from being shipped to Oklahoma territory, but it also gave us the means to be entrepreneurs and spread our wings.”
Alex doesn’t want the industry to just be understood among cattle producers, he wants to share that knowledge with the general public. During his time as Florida Cattlemen’s Association (FCA) president, Alex took pride in helping those not connected to agriculture understand the lifestyle farmers and ranchers live and how food is produced. For the theme of his presidency, he chose the slogan, “Show Your Passion” to encourage cattlemen and women across Florida to use social and digital media platforms to share their ranching lifestyle and stories with the non-agriculture public.
This slogan was crafted by Alex as he sat amongst his friends and they debated ideas.
“I really wanted people to show the world what we do and show the world that we aren’t bad people; we’re not here trying to degrade the resource or harm the land,” Alex said. “Somewhere out of that conversation, ‘Show Your Passion’ came up.”
As an active member of FCA and NCBA, Alex understands the importance of working as one industry to ensure that cattle producers can continue being stewards of the land for generations to come. While he would rather spend his time on the ranch, he sees the value in NCBA’s presence within the industry and in D.C., specifically.
“I feel like NCBA has always represented the cattle industry well and the cowman who is stuck in the woods. I know that I am well represented in D.C.,” Alex said.
Alex Johns is a producer whose passion for the industry is evident. He recognizes and appreciates the generations of hard work that it took to build the cattle industry we have today, but is continually looking to improve, to innovate and to create a brighter future.