To the editor
The huge King Ranch empire has spread to Pine Island. In the last year, they have purchased 16 properties - all palm farms.
King Ranch is the largest ranch in the United States, some 825,000 acres located north of Brownsville, Texas. It is bigger than Rhode Island, stretches over portions of six Texas counties, and is largely used for cattle and horse farms. Their headquarters is Kingsville, a town entirely located within and owned by the ranch. They also own vast holdings in Canada, Australia, Pennsylvania and other places.
Pine Island is not King Ranch's first venture in Florida. They have long owned large turf grass and citrus fields in Central Florida, and they also own 12,500 acres of sugar cane fields in the Everglades (they are the largest member of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida).
The 16 properties King Ranch purchased on Pine Island total 252 acres and cost them some $1.4 million (a fraction of the value of those properties a few years ago and a very smart purchase). It includes, among others, the former Soaring Eagle headquarters buildings and much if not all of their palm fields. A few years ago, Soaring Eagle was the second largest commercial enterprise on Pine Island-second only to Palmco. I suppose King Ranch now holds that title.
My research indicates that King Ranch is largely a vast farming enterprise-not another group of land speculators or unsustainable development profiteers, more of which Pine Island certainly does not need.
My hope is that they intend to continue to farm the lands they have purchased on Pine Island. If that is the case, we should roll out the Pine Island welcome mat to King Ranch and offer to work with them.
Our next step should be to offer the King Ranch representatives a chance to meet with the Greater Pine Island Civic Association, Chamber of Commerce and other island groups so we better understand each other.
St. James City