Commissioner Adam H. Putnam

Florida Agriculture: 500 Years in the Making

Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame

Snead Young Mathews Davis

Born in Georgia and raised on a farm, Snead Davis came to Florida as a young bride in the 1930s. She and her husband, Thomas Mathews, bought a frontier ranch near Alachua and developed it into the Santa Fe River Ranch where they established the first herd of registered Hereford ca ttle in Florida. During this time, Davis led efforts to modernize the Florida livestock industry through the use of sound, pure~bred cattle, universal health practices and state-of-the-art breeding programs.

Following her first husband's death in 1947, she married A.D. Davis, the founder and president of Winn Dixie Stores. Together they further developed the purebred cattle business at Santa Fe River Ranch and expanded their ranching interests in Wyoming and Colorado. Nationally recognized throughout the cattle industry, they laid the foundation that was to become Wihn Dixie's trademark: tIThe Beef People."

Davis turned her full attention to running Santa Fe River Ranch after her divorce in 1968. When she dispersed her herd in 1990, it was recognized as one of the leading foundation herds of Polled Herefords in the nation. A Polled Hereford breeder since the 19305, she established one of the nation's leading foundation herds ut her Santa Fe River Ranch and was the first woman to be inducted into the American Polled Hereford Association's Hall of Fame and the first woman to judge at the American Royal in Kansas City. The U.S. Department of State asked her to tour China as a representative of the beef cattle industry.

An honorary University of Florida alumna, Davis (who holds a teaching certificate from what is now Valdosta State University in Georgia) has served On the University of Florida Foundation's Board of Directors and as Vice Chairman of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences SHARE Council. Her major gifts to the UF-IFAS Animal Science Department are helping to develop a hands-on teaching program and to advance research on the interactions of beef cattle, wetlands and wildlife, a research priority of the Florida Cattlemen's Association. She recently gave more than $1 million to the UF-IFAS to further her lifelong efforts to add to the education of young people and to find new and innovative ways to advance Florida's cattle and ,agriculture industries.

An avid outdoorsman, Davis is widely respected for her endurance, energy and her skills with a rifle, shotgun and fly rod.

Back to Top

Return to Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame