Twenty-two Suwannee River Basin agriculturists will be recognized for their sustained efforts with a County Alliance for Responsible Stewardship (CARES) award during a dinner meeting on July 24. The event will be held at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center – Suwannee Valley Live Oak, beginning at 6 p.m.
Although rainfall patterns typical of the Florida summer have reappeared, the conservation and wise management of water resources remain important objectives for all people living in the Suwannee River Basin. Farmers and ranchers in the area continue to take a leading role in outstanding natural resource management.
CARES – the County Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship – was founded by Florida Farm Bureau in 2001 and the Suwannee River Partnership to recognize superior natural resource conservation by agricultural producers. The fundamental component of the program is the voluntary action by farmers and ranchers to implement state-of-the-art natural resource management systems, or Best Management Systems (BMPs) on their properties. The effectiveness of these systems has been confirmed by outside experts.
According to the Suwannee River Water Management District, for example, the voluntary implementation of BMPs by agriculturists in the basin saves at least one billion gallons of water each growing season. A recent report by the South Florida Water Management District shows that such systems have slashed phosphorous concentrations in the area south of Lake Okeechobee by 71% in the past year.
In partnership with more than 60 public agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource and Conservation Service, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida’s water management districts, agricultural organizations, businesses and local government, CARES has become a model for the rest of the nation.
Florida farmers and ranchers depend upon the life-sustaining capacity of the natural resources they manage to maintain their livelihoods. More than 500 agriculturists statewide have received the CARES award in the past decade.
Florida Farm Bureau President John Hoblick will join Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam to present CARES awards at the dinner. The event, previously scheduled for June 28, was postponed because of flooding caused by Tropical Storm Debby.
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Florida Farm Bureau is the Sunshine State’s largest general agricultural organization with more than 140,000 member-families representing Farm Bureaus in 60 counties. Membership provides a multitude of benefits and you don’t have to be a farmer to be a member of Florida Farm Bureau.
Editors: The list below includes the CARES award recipients who will be recognized at the July 24 dinner meeting. Photos will be available the next day.
Alachua The Holly Factory
Alachua Hitchcock and Sons, Inc. Santa Fe River Ranch
Alachua Boyd Farm
Bradford Dyal Family Farm
Columbia Willis Family
Columbia Ricky Philpot
Gilchrist Smith Farms of Bell, Inc.
Hamilton Hugh and Jan Hunter
Hamilton Murphy Bothers Farm
Jefferson Walker and Sons Farm Inc.
Layefette Jody and Laura Land
Madison L & H Family Farm
Madison Jimmy Harris and Sons Farms
Madison Windy Hill Farm
Madison Howard and Dorreen Curtis
Madison Margie Foust Mcleod
Madison Ben and Katherine Harris
Madison Brett and Christy Lameier
Madison Jimmy and Hilda Dixon
Madison Red Oak Ranch
Madison Washington Family Farm
Suwannee Sherriff’s Boy’s Ranch