An American Agribusiness... Built for Today's World
FOR THE FUTURE
We own and manage Conservation and Environmental Resources lands in Collier, Hendry and Polk Counties and engage in Cattle Production, Sod and Native Plant Sales, Land Leasing for recreational and grazing purposes and conservation activities. Conservation and Environmental Resources totals approximately 71,000 gross acres. We occasionally lease the same acreage for more than one purpose.
Our Cattle operation is engaged in the production of beef cattle and is located in Hendry and Collier Counties. The breeding herd consisted of approximately 9,000 cows and bulls and we plan to increase the size of our herd in the near future to the extent practicable. We primarily sell our calves to feed yards and yearling grazing operations in the United States. We also sell cattle through local livestock auction markets and to contract cattle buyers in the United States. These buyers provide ready markets for our cattle. We believe that the loss of any one or a few of these buyers would not have a material effect on our Cattle operations.
Water Storage Contract Approval
In December 2012, the South Florida Water Management District (“SFWMD”) issued a solicitation request for projects to be considered for the Northern Everglades Payment for Environmental Services Program. In March 2013, the Company submitted its response proposing a dispersed water management project on a portion of its ranch land.
On December 11, 2014, the SFWMD approved a contract with the Company. The contract term is eleven years and allows up to one year for implementation (design, permitting, construction and construction completion certification) and ten years of operation whereby the Company will provide water retention services. Payment for these services includes an amount not to exceed $4,000,000 of reimbursement for implementation. In addition, it provides for an annual fixed payment of $12,000,000 for operations and maintenance costs as long as the project is in compliance with the contract and subject to annual SFWMD Governing Board (the “Board”) approval of funding. The contract specifies that the Board has to approve the payments annually, and there can be no assurance that it will approve the annual fixed payments.
During the 2015 legislative session, the Governor of Florida vetoed the legislatively approved budget for dispersed water management projects. Although SFWMD did not receive the state funds for the project payments for the next fiscal year (October 2015 through September 2016), SFWMD has amended the Contract with the Company to extend the duration for funding beyond the 2016 legislative session. This provided the District with options to continue with the project.
As discussed above, the Dispersed Water Management Program Northern Everglades Payment for Environmental Services Contract between the Company and SFWMD provides that funding of the contract is subject to the SFWMD receiving funds for the project from the Florida Legislature and the SFWMD Governing Board budget appropriation.
The SFWMD budget process allows for amending the budget at any Governing Board meeting, which could allow for some funding in fiscal year 2016. However, if no funds are provided in 2016 and accommodation is not reached to delay work on the project until funds are available, the District would be within its rights under the contract to terminate.
In the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2013 we were granted an easement to the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”), through its administering agency, The Natural Resources Conservation Service, on approximately 11,600 acres of our Ranch and Conservation land located in Hendry County, Florida.