CHIEFLAND — A longtime Levy County cattleman will soon find his name amongst other distinguished individuals in the agricultural industry.
Earlier this month, Don Quincey, owner of Quincey Cattle Company in Chiefland, was one of two individuals announced by Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried and the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame as 2023 Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame inductees.
“First of all, I’m very humbled by the nomination and for the recognition to be inducted into the Florida AG Hall of Fame,” Quincey said. “When I see the people that have won this award in the past or been inducted into the Hall of Fame, I just don’t think I can fill their shoes.”
As mentioned, in order for someone to be considered for the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame, he or she must first be nominated. According to Quincey, letters written by people who have worked or been associated with the individual must then be sent in to backup the nomination of that person.
The letters that were written on behalf of Quincey came from a handful of leaders of several organizations. And while each one had its own way of describing Quincey and the person he is, it seemed as tough every letter mentioned his kindness or humbleness and passion for the agricultural industry.
When asked where this love for agriculture came from, Quincey said he was unsure of how it started and instead, shared the story that has been told to him.
Quincey said he was just 2 years old when his dad purchased a feed store in town. At the time, his family had a herd of brood cows (mother cattle). And in order to get the money to buy the business, they had to sell the brood cow herd.
As the cows were being gathered together, Quincey said he stood and watched as his mom told him what was going on.
“I was heartbroken,” he said. “I was sobbing. I didn’t want the cattle to leave.”
Seeing that Quincey was upset, his grandpa and mom went to his dad to see if a few of the cows could be held back. Quincey said his grandpa told them four of five of the cows could remain with his herd and that he would let Quincey keep the money off the calves each year.
“Over the years, my grandfather, until I got big enough ... he took care of them, but I would get the money when he sold the calves and he would put it in my bank account,” Quincey said. “Over in time, I went to buying more cattle and more cattle. I had me a pretty nice little herd by the time I graduated high school.”
But following his graduation from Chiefland High School and several years of working for his family growing up at their feed store, Quincey decided to take a different career path. That was in law enforcement.
“I guess some of it is you want to prove yourself that you can go be on your own,” he said of the decision.
Quincey said he worked for the sheriff’s department for a summer following his graduation, where he got to be amongst friends who were also in the field. The department offered Quincey a full-time position and was going to send him to the police academy as well as Santa Fe.
“I went through the police academy and went to work,” he said. “I worked for the sheriff’s department for three years. And my dad came to me, I think it was in ‘76, and says, ‘hey, I’d like for you to come back to work, and I want you to run a department for me.’”
“So, I said, ‘that’s really where my passion lies is in agriculture,’” Quincey said.
Several years later, that dedication would ultimately lead Quincey to starting up his own business, Quincey Cattle Company, in 1992. He said today, the cattle farm has a customer base that spans all over the U.S.
The induction ceremony for the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame is set to take place on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. The commemoration is held during the Florida State Fair at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.
And while the ceremony is still a couple of months away, Quincey knows how special that day will be when it comes.
“It will be mostly humbling,” he said. “It’ll be the biggest award I will ever receive in my life. It will be a big day.”