Agriculture passion, tradition fuel Florida cattle-ranching family
July 3, 2012
Florida is known for its oranges, white-sand beaches, and theme parks. Yet, Florida is rich in agriculture beyond citrus. More than 300 commodities are grown in Florida and Ponce De Leon brought the first cattle to the new world into "La Florida" or Florida in 1521. Florida ranks 11th in the nation for beef cattle production.
The Freel family of Weirsdale, Florida is proud of its history of cattle production. Dr. Bill Freel grew up on a dairy farm in Iowa where he attended college to become a large animal veterinarian. After graduation his family moved to Florida, where he started his practice, Country Oaks Veterinary Clinic.
Thirty-two years and more than two-million cattle later, Dr. Freel has raised a family, built a strong veterinarian presence and grown a cattle ranch with more than 800 registered purebred angus cattle.
Two of Dr. Freel's children are active in the day-to-day activities of the ranch. His daughters grew up with their dad's passion for cattle. They have started a Certified Angus Beef business.
Erin Freel, the oldest daughter of the Freel family, loves that she and her sister Molly are able to interact directly with the consumers.
"It is fun to help people understand the different cuts of meat and understand where their food comes from" says Erin.
The Freel's are excited about the next generation of cow lovers. Granddaughters Riley and Reagan love living on the farm and showing animals. The strong work ethic of their grandfather is starting the young girls out right.
The family is active in many organizations in Florida including the Florida Cattlemen's Association, the Florida Angus Association and they are lifetime members of the National FFA Alumni.
They have a special connection to Florida FFA where Molly and Erin were active as officers and on judging teams. The sisters have also continued to support the organization on the local and state level. National FFA is a communication partner with the Farm American initiative.