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Oklahoma Agricultural Hall of Fame
Photo of John Hughes
John Hughes-2013

Ag Hall of Fame 2013 - Outstanding Achievement Award in Agriculture

Osage County rancher, business leader and nationally acclaimed beef industry expert, John Hughes, became the 16th inductee into the Oklahoma Agricultural Hall of Fame on April 4, 2013. A career of improving the land and lives of the people who make ranching their livelihood earned him the most prestigious award in Oklahoma agriculture.

The Hughes Ranch was founded by his father, A.M. Hughes in 1938 as a 1,400 acre spread that was, like many ranges in Osage County at the time, largely covered in Blackjack and Post Oak brush. While his father’s career was primarily in the oil and gas industry, young John was enamored with the cattle business—and cowboy lifestyle—and devoted himself to both. At 17 years of age he entered the cattle business.

After graduating Oklahoma State University in 1955 Mr. Hughes took over the family ranching business which had by then grown to 5,000 acres. He knew that in order to support his family he had to increase grazing capacity and began an aerial spraying business to improve grazing and allowing him to be a full-time rancher.

Aerial spraying can be a high liability business as Mr. Hughes quickly discovered. Spraying an area appearing safely away from sensitive crops the humidity caused spray residue to drift far enough away to damage a watermelon patch. Upon hearing about the damage he immediately sought out the farmer and asked how much he owed the man for damages. It was this kind of character that set John Hughes apart.

Devoted to enhancing profitability and sustainability the Hughes Ranch is a living classroom for agricultural students and ranchers.Dr. Robert Totusek, professor emeritus at Oklahoma State University, said Mr. Hughes had “…an eye for the future, and importantly has positively impacted future generations of ranchers.”

A humble man, Mr. Hughes gives credit to others for his successes. “The generations that came before me in the Osage were great producers and set the beginning of our ranching heritage,” he said. “I truly have been blessed to make friends with and work with some of the greatest people on the planet. I would not trade places with anyone.”

Any information submitted or stored by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry is subject to open records laws and may be released to any person who requests it. Exceptions include some personally identifiable information, financial information and law enforcement records. All records of the agency, including records submitted by the public, are stored in various electronic and paper methods.