With over three decades of ranching from north to south Florida, the Sampson family knows beef. Jeff and Janet Sampson, along with their son, Jared, and daughter, Jessica, raise a growing herd of Certified Grassfed by AWA Black Angus cattle in north-central Florida. The farm sits on top of the Suwannee Valley River Basin and natural springs feed its ponds, providing some of the cleanest water around.
Over the years, Janet and Jeff have experimented with several different breeds of cattle, but for the past decade they have narrowed down their selection to Angus. “From a personal view, they are easy to work with and make great mothers,” Janet explains. “From a product standpoint, the quality just cannot be beat – a nice, lean, tender meat with a pleasant taste.”
In 2015, Sampson Family Farm became the first farm in the state of Florida to be Certified Grassfed by AWA for their beef cattle. This is the only certification and food label in the U.S. and Canada that guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100% grass and forage diet, raised entirely outdoors on pasture or range, and managed according to the highest welfare and environmental standards on an independent family farm.
Janet believes the quality of their beef can also be attributed to careful husbandry practices: “Our farming practices guarantee that our cattle have plenty of room to roam, enjoying high quality grazing, fresh air and clean water. The beef cattle we offer to our clients are born and raised on our farm, tracked from birth to harvest to assure the freshest, cleanest product. We are a sustainable farm using pasture rotation with natural shade and fresh water available at all times. We also feed high quality free choice hay or grass silage during winter or drought conditions.”
The Sampsons are passionate advocates of pasture-based management and in recent years they have come to realize the importance of being good grass farmers, as well as good ranchers. “We have worked hard on the rotational grazing plan and have been pleasantly surprised on how well it keeps the grass and cattle healthier, without an over load of commercial chemicals,” Janet says. “Our grasses are healthy enough to graze and cut hay from, providing us with control over what the cattle eat all year long. This practice allows us to guarantee the knowledge of what goes into our cattle – and your meat.”
Janet says the farm sought AWA certification as a way to communicate its husbandry practices to consumers: “We want our customers to know how much we care for our cattle, and that it is possible to treat livestock with respect and honor, making sure they are well cared for during the time they are with us. We hope to show customers who are dissatisfied with intensive farming practices that there really is an alternative.”
Over the last decade the Sampsons have focused on the farm’s sustainability efforts. Janet sees numerous benefits: “In doing so we have not only become better caretakers of our animals, but better caretakers of our land and water. For us, the path to sustainable farming is our number one goal. This means producing the healthiest possible product while showing compassion for our animals and land.”
As well as focusing on raising top quality beef cattle, the Sampsons are planning for the future and hope to open a farm store, offering Certified Grassfed by AWA beef and other local produce to their customers. Sampsons Family Farm beef is available directly from the farm. For more information, visit www.sampsonfamilyfarm.com.