OKLAHOMA CITY — More than 60 years of contributions to state agriculture received formal recognition late last week when Osage County rancher John F. Hughes was inducted into the Oklahoma Agriculture Hall of Fame.
Hughes, the second-generation operator of Hughes Ranch, is the 16th person to earn the hall-of-fame honor, which is bestowed by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
Gov. Mary Fallin presented Hughes with the Governor’s Outstanding Achievement Award in Agriculture during an afternoon ceremony in the Capitol’s Blue Room. In conjunction with the events, Thursday had been designated as Ag Day at the statehouse.
"There has never been a bigger crowd than for today’s Agriculture Hall of Fame induction," said Ron Hays, the longtime commentator for the Oklahoma Farm Report.
In 1955, Hughes left Oklahoma State University with a degree in animal husbandry. The same year, he assumed management duties at the Osage County ranch his father had founded 17 years earlier.
Hughes maintained the ranch as a cow/calf operation for more than 30 years before changing to a stocker cattle programs in the late 1980s. Since 1989, the ranch also has become the home to thousands of wild mustangs adopted through the federal Bureau of Land Management.
State Rep. Earl Sears (R-Bartlesville), who spoke at the ceremony, said Hughes is "an icon in our community." He said Hughes Ranch is a testimonial to the principles of proper land management.
"He truly is a statesman," Sears said of the area hall-of-fame inductee.
Throughout his lifetime of service to the agricultural community, Hughes has been acknowledged for his leadership in ranching and farming circles — as well as for being an exceptional steward of the land. In addition to raising his family, Hughes found time to participate in conservation and agriculture organizations at the county, state and national levels.
"John Hughes is revered by his peers as a tremendous cattleman and visionary," said a press release from the state department of agriculture. "He has served as a leader in beef production practices and brush control, and has opened his doors to serve as a classroom for future generations."
Among the previous honors that Hughes has received are: Oklahoma’s Outstanding Young Rancher-Farmer (1962); Governor’s Conservation Award (1972); Bluestem Rancher of the Year (1980); Outstanding Achievement Award for the Society of Range Management (1982); Graduate of Distinction from the OSU Animal Science Department (1985); Oklahoma Cattleman of the Year (1993); BEEF Magazine Stocker Operator of the Year (2003).
Hughes was inducted into the Osage County Cattleman’s Association Hall of Fame in 2009. Also, he has served as president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, director of the National Cattlemen’s Association, chairman of the Oklahoma Beef Commission, director of the Texas Cattle Feeder’s Association and director of the US Meat Export Federation.
He has served on the boards of the National Livestock Credit Corporation, the National Livestock Commission Association and the Oklahoma Beef Council. His other board memberships have included: the Frank Phillips Foundation, Arvest Bank, the Bartlesville Area Chamber of Commerce, First National Bank and the Grand River Dam Authority.
Hughes Ranch, located a few miles southwest of Bartlesville, comprised 1,800 acres when it was started in 1938. Today, the ranch has grown to occupy more than 12,000 acres.