A truck drives by on the dusty gravel road. In the distance, cows are grazing in the rolling, green pasture and a flock of egrets take off beating their wings against the hot, humid air. Rows of corn and beans, thousands of them, line up neatly leading off into the horizon. Walking for days wouldn’t cover the land encompassed by the boundaries of Dee River Ranch.
Dee River Ranch is a family operated farm located on 10,000 acres near the Mississippi-Alabama state line in Aliceville, Alabama. The Dees take pride in their hard work and efforts, and it shows. Driving down the roads of the ranch, one could look out their window and expect to see thousands of tidy rows of corn and soy beans. Looking out the other window, they’d likely see a large field of sunflowers that reaches beyond the horizon. Agriculturally, the Dee's farm rotate row crops of corn, wheat, sunflowers, and soybeans. These crops are sold to industry leaders around the world as well as local consumers.
If the agricultural aspect of the ranch didn’t seem like enough to keep this family busy, maybe the farm’s cattle operation will do the trick. Dee River Ranch is a certified USDA beef producer with over one thousand head of cattle. They raise Brahman and Angus to produce Brangus-type cattle.
The ranch is dedicated to land conservation and environmentally friendly farming techniques. Following Hurricane Katrina, the ranch encountered a dilemma that many southern farmers were facing . . . the lack of fuel. Since nearly every piece of equipment and machinery they used ran on diesel fuel, the Dee’s had to use innovative techniques to alleviate this issue. They began using the crops they were harvesting to make their own biodiesel to fuel their equipment. The ranch also has dedicated nearly 4,000 acres to the conservation reserve program. Constantly striving to put back into the earth what they have taken and uphold the integrity of the land, Dee River Ranch has been awarded countless honors based on their mission.
The future of farming begins today and the Dee’s devote themselves to educating others. They have partnered with extension programs from Auburn and the University of Alabama, inviting students to the ranch on numerous occasions for learning opportunities. Even elementary students take part in ranch activities during “Farm Days.” Local schools attend educational exhibits featuring various aspects of farm life. Dee River Ranch also hosts field days each year to update other area farmers on the latest technological advances and farming techniques.
If today’s accomplishments on the farm are any indicator of its future success, Dee River Ranch is well on its way to setting the new farming standard across the south.