Jim Strickland’s promotion at his Myakka City family-run cattle and citrus farm came suddenly and tragically.
It was in 1973. Hiram Strickland, Jim’s dad and onetime Manatee County tax assessor, had died unexpectedly. The multigenerational cattle-ranching family looked toward the younger Strickland, then 17, to take over. More than four decades later Jim Strickland, 60, remains at the helm of Strickland Ranch, now working in tandem with his wife, Renee Strickland.
Strickland Ranch, about 27,000 acres, has mixed survival years with periods where it thrived, much like other farms in Florida. Both Stricklands, also like many other Florida farmers, say they are in it for the passion and heritage, not necessarily sales and profits. “I’m just a cowboy,” Jim Strickland is fond of saying.
The Stricklands are also just one of a handful of cattle farms statewide to lead the way on a new, albeit risky business model: Going farm-to-table with cattle, specifically, and for now exclusively, selling high-end beef to prominent Tampa restaurateur Richard Gonzmart for use in Gonzmart’s restaurants Ulele and Goody Goody.
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