Deseret Ranches (i//) refers to the ranching operations of Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Central Florida. The Ranches include several organizations including Deseret Ranches of Florida, Deseret Cattle and Citrus, Taylor Creek Management, East Central Florida Services, Agreserves, and Farmland Reserve. Located 7 miles (11 km) east of the Orlando International Airport and 19 miles (31 km) west of Cape Canaveral, Florida. Currently, Deseret Ranches is the largest cow-calf ranch in the United States.
This ranch, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spreads over the three central Florida counties of Osceola, Orange, and Brevard. Covering almost 300,000 acres (1200 km²) of land, 90 ranchers and their families live on the ranch. The ranch maintains 44,000 head of beef cattle. It is a for profit operation and is not a normal part of the humanitarian efforts of the LDS Church. Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of the church has said, "We have felt that good farms, over a long period, represent a safe investment where the assets of the Church may be preserved and enhanced, while at the same time they are available as an agricultural resource to feed people should there come a time of need."
The earliest plans for this ranch were made in 1949, and in 1950 the original 45,000 acres (180 km²) were purchased. Deseret Ranch now covers an area 50 by 30 miles (80 by 48 km), with a separate section surrounding Kenansville in Osceola County.
In 2010, the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida (Orange and Seminole Counties) ruled that Deseret owned and had control over the Taylor Creek Reservoir over the St. Johns River Water Management District. This ruling is being considered for appeal. The district wants to increase the draw from 10,000,000 US gallons (38,000,000 l; 8,300,000 imp gal) to upwards of 25,000,000 US gallons (95,000,000 l; 21,000,000 imp gal) daily.
The church bought the original 54,000-acre (220 km2) tract in 1950, and over 50 years, the ranch grew to more than 312,000 acres (1,260 km2). In 1997 it was the world's largest beef ranch, and the land was worth an estimated $858 million.
The LDS Church does not disclose the revenue of the ranch, but it is known that in year 2000 they moved 16 million pounds (7300 t) of calves, which at the time translated to about $16 million in revenue. In 2008, Deseret Ranch discussed selling part of the property for a development near Orlando, Florida, but the proposed rezoning was withdrawn prior to approval.
The Deseret Ranch also brings in revenue from the mining of native shell beds (which is used throughout Florida to pave roads), orange groves, hunting permits, and sales of ornamental palm trees.
- LDS.org: "Book of Mormon Pronunciation Guide" (retrieved 2012-02-25), IPA-ified from «dĕz-a-rĕt´»
- Barnett, Cynthia (December 2001), "The Church's Ranch: The Mormon church runs one of the biggest and most profitable cattle operations in the U.S. on a 300,000-acre ranch covering parts of Orange, Brevard, and Osceola counties" (PDF), Florida Trend
- Hollenhorst, John (18 May 2011), LDS Church ranch making big impact in Florida, KSL-TV
- "Culture Clash". Host: Brian Unger. How the States Got Their Shapes. A&E Television Networks. The History Channel. 5-Jul-11. 44 minutes in.
- Ranching from Deseret Ranches webpage.[dead link]
- Cattle from Deseret Ranches webpage.[dead link]
- Hinckley, Gordon B. (May 1991), "The State of the Church", Ensign
- Waymer, Jim (30 January 2010). "Ranchers' stake to water affirmed". Melbourne, Florida: Florida Today. pp. 1B.
- Biema, 1997[full citation needed]
- Spear, Kevin (8 July 2008). Deseret Ranch owners pull request to rezone property. Orlando Sentinel.
- Spear, Kevin (13 October 2008). Could Deseret Ranch morph into a metro area larger than Orlando?. Orlando Sentinel. Last accessed 15 May 2009.[dead link]
- Berman, Dave (January 15, 2012). "Deal allows Cocoa to sell, use Taylor Creek water". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida). pp. 1B.
- Deseret Ranches official site