Bill King presides over the Bill King Ranch near Albuquerque, New Mexico, a place he's enjoyed for 45 years. He's a fourth generation cattleman with a fifth and sixth waiting in the wings. "My grandmother's parents settled here in 1908; my granddad's parents arrived in 1917. We've been raising beef cattle and farming in New Mexico for over 100 years," he said. "It's a family business."
I asked about the history behind the ranch. “My grandparents started dryland farming and raising cattle. In the 1950s we drilled irrigation wells. I farm about 4,000 acres now, with irrigated crops under pivots. We run about 900 registered cows of three different breeds - 350 registered Hereford cows, 350 Angus cows and 200 Charolais on 40,000 acres."
His three daughters work alongside him in the family business. Becky and her husband, Tom Spindle, help him with cattle breeding while Jenny and Stacy keep records and books. Bill's grandchildren are also following in the family tradition through 4-H, FFA and college ag studies.
King's ranch includes a cow-calf operation and feedlot. "We have 1,200 to 1,500 stockers and 1000 cows. We raise bulls and breeding cattle," he said. "We grow corn, hay and wheat on 4,000 acres, too."
Like most Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) members, he's always been active with cattle associations. He was a member of the New Mexico Cattle Growers, he served as secretary of the Edgewood Solid Water Conservation District and as a board member for the Central New Mexico Electric Co-op. He also is a past president of both the American Hereford Association and the New Mexico Cattle Growers; a past regional vice president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association; and a past board member for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association.
It's a community service 'gene' that runs throughout the family. His father, Bruce, was a three-time governor of New Mexico. In an interview with the New Mexico Rancher he said, "My daughter Becky is on the Board of Directors for the National Hereford Women, and the Cattle Growers Board of Directors. My son-in-law Tommy has been on the Beef Council in New Mexico for eight years. My daughter Stacy is the secretary of the New Mexico Hereford Association. We strive to be active in national, state and local organizations.
"My first CBB meeting was in March and I was appointed to the Innovation Committee," he said. "I was delighted about that. I think our industry is in a good place. We're a very sustainable business - turning grass into good, nutritious meat. We take products that grow naturally and give people something good to eat.
“Beef needs to be in the forefront," he said. "We need to develop new products that appeal to consumers. We need to match new products to the needs of the new consumers.”
More importantly, he understands the importance of understanding the customer and delivering on your implicit promises. "I started selling bulls in the 1970s. I learned quickly that you have to deliver on your promises," he said.
He's a strong believer in the future of the business, too. "We can continue to grow by developing our export business while working hard to retain our markets in the U.S."