Kimberly Ratcliff is trailblazing in the beef community as a modern-approach ranch manager, successful entrepreneur, and advocate for minority beef producers in Texas. Educated at Long Island University in marketing and computer science, Kimberly first held a corporate position at Bloomberg on Wall Street in New York. In 2007, she moved to Oakwood, Texas to manage Caney Creek Ranch, a diverse beef operation founded by her parents five years earlier.
Covering 2,500 acres across Freestone, Leon and Houston Counties (with the main location in Oakwood), Caney Creek Ranch raises registered Charbray cattle, about 550 a season. Their breeding stock are sold nationally and internationally and the ranch also produces commercial cattle, horses, livestock feed resources, and has a direct-to-consumer meat company (Farm to Freezer Meat Company).
Kimberly and her family will be featured in an upcoming episode in season three of Beef Loving Texans’ “BBQuest” TV show, launching this summer. She feels a behind-the-scenes peek at her ranch is a way for viewers to learn more about her unique story, see the passion and care that goes into producing beef, and also relate to the family dynamics of working closely with loved ones.
When Kimberley’s parents started Caney Creek Ranch, she was still fully immersed in her Wall Street career promoting the commodity platform for Bloomberg.
“I would talk with my parents on the phone daily,” she said. “They would keep me updated about the newest activities at the ranch and also reveal many of their challenges. Those daily conversations made me realize the disconnect between the commodity trading community and the agriculture community. This disconnect began my transition to move back to the ranch.”
To hone her skills before joining the ranch, Kimberly completed the Ranch Management Program at Texas Christian University.
“After graduation, I walked on the ranch thinking I was ready to change the operation immediately. I just remember my parents firing me several times due to my aggressive approach,” Kimberly shared with a chuckle. “I’ve learned now that sometimes baby steps are the best approach.”
While Kimberly’s mother passed away in 2019, her father, Wesley Ratcliff, is still involved with daily ranch duties.
In 2008, Kimberly helped launch 100 Ranchers and is the Executive Director. The organization is comprised primarily of minority producers across counties in Texas, but is open to all. The mission of 100 Ranchers is to unite farmers and ranchers by strengthening and promoting agriculture. The members are an integral part of sharing information, resources and best practices, and connecting people and projects through a strong network.
“Having the ability to educate and assist a community I love is one of the most rewarding aspects of my career,” Kimberly said.
Kimberly estimates she works 60+ hours a week across the ranch, meat business and volunteering with 100 Ranchers.
“One of the hardest parts about my job is trying to balance business and personal life,” she explained. “I always tell people (figuratively) that my husband and kids are my work.”
Kimberly traveled extensively in her job at Bloomberg, but recalls one of her most interesting trips abroad being a two-week visit to India in conjunction with the Texas Agriculture Lifetime Leadership (TALL) program in 2012.
“The trip provided a greater appreciation for agriculture,” she said. “I was struck by how most production was led by women and how nearly everything was done by manual labor.”
When not hard at work, Kimberly enjoys fishing “in any type of water source” or sitting back to enjoy a slow-cooked brisket or roast.
Learn more about “BBQuest” and watch Seasons 1 and 2 at BeefLovingTexans.com.