Nation's 14th Largest Cow-calf Ranch Ceases Operations, Focuses on Citrus

The 14th largest cow-calf operation is getting out of the cattle business to concentrate on citrus growing.

Alico Inc., a large agribusiness company in Florida, announced on Nov. 16 the company plans to “cease its direct cattle operations at Alico Ranch” by the end of the year. The majority of Alico’s grazing land is found in Hendry County, with some in Collier County. A total of 71,000 acres is listed in the “Conservation and Environmental Resources” portion of Alico’s holdings.

“The ranch has been a landholding for us for generations, but, even when profitable, ranch operations generated a minimal rate of return on capital,” Alico’s statement reads.

Alico plans to continue utilizing the property for long term water dispersement program and wildlife management programs. The grazing land will be leased to another party to run their own cattle.

“All of these decisions are intended to enable additional investment in the citrus business and redeployment of capital elsewhere,” Alico’s statement continues.

Citrus is going to be a focus of “Alico 2.0” a program that hopes to reduce total expenses per acre from $3,314/acre in FY16 to $2,164/acre. Alico hopes to reduce the company’s cost to produce a pound solid of citrus from $2.14 to $1.56.

On the Alico website, the herd is listed as being approximately 9,000 head total counting cows and breeding bulls. In 2016, Alico was the 14th largest cow-calf ranch in the U.S., according to data from CattleFax.

Alico began as Atlantic Land Improvement Company (ALICO) in 1898 and was a subsidiary of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. In 1960, Alico was spun off into its own company keeping the acronym as its name. The publicly traded company not only had interest in cattle and citrus, but also with sugar cane, forestry and sod production.

An interactive map of Alico’s land holdings can be seen here.

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Submitted by David Michael Anderson on Sat, 11/18/2017 - 03:42

I know we're all in it for the money but it's a shame to see another cow-calf operation go down

Submitted by Dale Davis on Mon, 11/20/2017 - 11:23

People can say what they will, The market is no where close to where it needs to be to be able to sustain operating above the ever rising costs of inputs and overhead. Case in point, when was the last time you saw the price of a new tractor decrease? On the other hand, when the last time you saw the price of calves decrease?

Submitted by Craig Nickman on Mon, 11/20/2017 - 12:47

Dale, we in Ag are responsible for the prices that we pay for tractors and land. If we had the discipline to stop buying tractors they would come down. Unfortunately, we do not have that discipline. We like to complain about the state of things, but do nothing to change them.

In reply to by Dale Davis (not verified)

Submitted by common-tater on Mon, 11/20/2017 - 21:08

Craig....part of THAT problem is that the "we" in my area that actually do buy the new tractors and land are almost exclusively people who do not NEED to make a profit....that are having the spend millions made in other business. How many farmers do you know who practice law or medicine...and don't mind doing so at a huge loss because they 'enjoy' it and just want to pump their money into it? In our are, virtually every farm that has sold the last 10 years has been purchased by exactly that....one of three or four people who NEED to spend money and do not care at all about profit.....also the ones with by far the most equipment....

In reply to by Craig Nickman (not verified)

Submitted by Scott on Wed, 11/22/2017 - 13:05

When calf prices exceeded .85/lb we were thrilled, just 9-10 years ago. We were thrilled to be breaking even. Prices went up to 2.50+ for awhile, then back down to what they are today. Operators got lazy watching their expenses. Prices are still double what they were 10 years ago while operating costs have not doubled. Sharpen your pencil, you should be doing fine. If, however, you took out a plethora of loans during the prosperous times, yeah, sell out your cattle and grow citrus.

In reply to by Dale Davis (not verified)

Submitted by Dale Davis on Wed, 11/22/2017 - 15:20

Ten years ago i put together the first set of stocker steers I had ever owned. They cost $1.08 and weighed 474#, before trucking. I still have the receipts. Those same quality, same weight cattle today are costing $1.45 to $1.55. Far from double. A new 4X4 Four door Cab and chassis Dodge pickup was $28,999, today they are just over $54,000. My pencil may not be real sharp, but I can figure that out pretty quick.

In reply to by Scott (not verified)

Submitted by common-tater on Wed, 11/22/2017 - 20:28

Also....in my area at least...figure what land would cost you for your operation today as opposed to ten, twenty, thirty years ago....yes, if everything is paid for, maybe things are going okay right now....but not everyone can have everything paid for all the time...obviously we are having trouble getting new, young folks into the business to replace us aging codgers....

In reply to by Dale Davis (not verified)