“The meat company started with a set up at a farmers market, then I added a website. Now I’m selling all my meats, I have contracts, huge contracts, the Houston Food Bank. I have a contract in Washington DC. I literally just got off the phone call before here with a major restaurant chain that I’m possibly going to sell to, like the stadiums here, the Dallas Mavericks or the Rockets stadium. So I’m really expanding, but the philosophy of what the original 100 Ranchers is, still holds true with my meat company. You understand? I’m still buying local cattle. I have to because of my contract, I can’t do 100% grass fed because I’ve got to fill contracts. So I have a feeding operation too that can feed over 1000 animals. I have a feeding operation, but the basis of what I’m doing is still community driven for the company. All my cattle are pretty much, 80% of the cattle – I do have to get some external cattle, but 80% of the cattle come from this region. I have a local processor. So what I’m trying to build now is a local meat system. You don’t have to go far. Everything is within this region.”
Kimberly Ratcliff is a diversified rancher in Oakwood, Texas. She operates a cattle ranch, hay operation, meat processing facility and has organized her neighbors to collectively lease their land for solar energy. She’s also exploring selling carbon credits.She relies on pioneers like Cather Woods and Drs. Al Parks and Fred Richards at Prairie View A&M for mentoring her, just as they did for the previous generation of black farmers under Hightower.
She believes that the Black Farmer Conferences need to be continued, but in a different format. She notes, “They’re not bringing the new generation in, going to a hotel room, sitting in a hotel and listening to someone speak is boring as heck, let’s be honest. It is boring as heck. But how are we going to be creative and bringing these people in to talk about it? The first thing, can we go to operations and we walk the land talking about it? Do things different than the old sitting in a hotel room, sitting around. We’ve got to change the ethic we are actually reaching our community.
It’s an outdoors community, right? At 100 Ranchers, when I was executive director, I would not have anything in a hotel room. We would do it at an operation or we do it hands on, or we are the research and we have test plots and we’re looking at it. People are more willing to come out. And then we celebrate afterwards. Like let’s have a big barbecue, let’s have this fun little networking events right afterwards. You know, let’s do this. So we just have to change the way we are approaching culture in general.”