A successful citrus grower, rancher and aquaculturist, Frank “Sonny” Williamson Jr. is among Florida’s most progressive farmers. He is arguably Florida’s — and the nation’s — premier agro-ecologist. A visionary leader, Williamson understands that farmers must protect and preserve the natural environment in order to sustain their industry. For the last 25 years he has become increasingly committed to promoting responsible environmental stewardship.
The beef industry in Okeechobee County has been under intense regulation with respect to the quality of water runoff from the ranches, and the water leaving the Williamson Cattle Company has the least amount of phosphorous per liter of any tributary in the basin. The Williamsons have worked with the University of Florida to change some of the regulations on phosphorous fertilization of pasture grasses, and have actually developed a phosphorous budget that keeps track of all the phosphorous that comes onto the property in feed and fertilizer and all that leaves the property in the form of exports, which is basically beef cattle. “We found that we actually do a negative phosphorous balance, which means that we sell more phosphorous off the ranch than we bring in, in the way of fertilizer or minerals for the cattle,” Sonny said. “That’s a long-term goal that we should strive for in all of agriculture.”
In 2004 WCC became the first Ranch east of the Mississippi River to receive the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Environmental Stewardship Award. This prestigious award program recognizes cattle producers across the nation, whose stewardship practices are progressive, cost-effective and contribute to environmental conservation.
John Williamson, Catfish Farmer of the Year from Alabama, has been in business since 2000, starting with 500 acres of catfish ponds. His operation has now increased to 1,650 acres. He credits his success in recent years to his focus on efficiency, keeping production high and using more electric generators to reduce the demand on fuel. Williamson was chosen by a panel of his peers who lauded him as “a great spokesperson for the industry as a whole.” - BusinessWire
2013 - 2014 President
Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame