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His Passion Started At A Young Age
It's great to know exactly where your beef comes from, it's even better knowing who you will be working with.
Almost since he could walk, Dan has been working in the cattle business. His mom Doris sums it up best when she recounts when Dan was just 10 years old and “even then he was opinionated about what cows we breed.” Being and serving the best has always been who Dan is.
Dan started riding herd and fixing fences while in elementary school. He also showed numerous prize-winning steers while serving as a state officer and Regional Vice President for the Future Farmers of America (FFA). The blue jacket they wore was a symbol of their commitment to cattle and leadership in rural communities and ran in the family. In fact, his brother Ronnie, was recognized by the FFA as a Star Farmer, among the organization’s highest honors.
By age 15, Dan and his brother Ronnie had taken over many of the Morgan Ranch’s day-to-day decisions, including the all-important selecting of replacement heifers and bulls. And, a few years later, when their father passed away, Dan and Ronny took over the entire operation, including the Ranch’s national champion seed stock.
When you get to know Dan, you quickly realize his passions extend beyond cattle and the meat business, as recently he attended the 40th year reunion of his Peace Corps group in Ecuador. In the Peace Corps, where he served at age 19, Dan’s focus was, naturally, agriculture. While the Andes and Great Plains do have their differences, “El Gringo” as he was affectionately called, imparted all knew and learned about raising livestock…and absorbed the same from his hosts. To this day, Dan returns to Equador and South America more largely that it has almost become a second home to him.
In 1992, Dan decided to build on the Morgan Ranch’s reputation for premium cattle by purchasing their first Wagyu cattle from C. Itoh, the famed Japanese breeder. After building their herd and improving its genetics for about a decade, by 2003 Dan began marketing Morgan Ranch Wagyu Beef more widely, leading him to that year’s Aspen Food and Wine Festival and his late night meeting with Carlos and Debbie Nieto, two fellow food-lovers and soon, Dan’s first customers.
Never content with just focusing on his family’s business, Dan has served on various leadership committees all with an aim to help small business generally, and family-run agriculture more specifically. His service has included the Chamber of Commerce, the National Beef Association, the Democratic Party, and even a 6-year stint on the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement and Fairness Commission, a position earned by Presidential appointment.
As an avid wine connoisseur, Dan has also entered into a partnership with a small family-owned winery in Argentina owned by two brothers, Diego and Maxi. After many a white water rafting trip, or hike along the Inca Trail, or camp aside Lake Titicaca, the three of them hatched the idea that the label develop a wine to specifically compliment the flavor, tenderness, and texture of Morgan Ranch Wagyu beef.
Business for Dan is more than about just serving the best product, it is as much about the people he meets and the friendships that develop. When you buy beef from Dan, you are buying from a friend…and don’t be surprised if you ever find yourself riding herd with Dan, Ronny, and the whole Morgan Ranch family as an invitation to visit their ranch is always open.