On July 29th, 2011, at the California State Fair, the California Agriculture Heritage Club recognized family farms, ranches and other agribusinesses that have maintained their fiscal responsibility for over a century. Daryl Oest, an Auburn rancher, was among one of the few this year to be acknowledged and inducted into the California Agriculture Heritage Club for his family’s involvement in agricultural operations for over 150 years in Placer County.
Although throughout the years the Oests have experimented with orchard farming and multiple types of livestock, these days Oest works with around 300 cattle that graze on several plots of land he owns. Oest has been grazing cattle his whole life and thoroughly enjoys being outdoors; for him there is no other way he would have his life.
Oest currently owns 950 acres of agricultural land off of Highway 49 and on the American River Canyon, 350 acres of which were permanently protected by Oest and Placer Land Trust in 2009 through an agricultural conservation easement. The easement not only protects the Oest’s land from being developed in the future, but provided new financial resources for the increasing expenses that a lot of agricultural businesses are facing these days. Increases in water and fuel prices can be directly felt by ranchers, especially since the Oest properties have been fragmented over the past few years.
Financial stress had previously cost the Oests a piece of property which has gone on to be developed. That particular property loss caused parts of the fragmentation in what was once a large piece of contiguous land. The Oest family was happy to work with Placer Land Trust to ensure that kind of property loss did not happen again.
Generations of Oest ranchers can continue on these lands because of the protection from development. This allows the Oests to continue their ranching livelihood for many years to come – who knows, maybe even another 150 years!
“Congratulations to the Oest family for leading the way as a sustainable family business and a working landscape,” said Placer Land Trust Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “It is an honor working with Daryl and his family, and we’re thrilled that their ranch was honored by the California Agricultural Heritage Club.”