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July 3, 2014

Farm families recognized for environmental stewardship

Live Oak —

Progressive farmers in the District who have voluntarily demonstrated exceptional environmental stewardship were awarded the County Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship (CARES) award on June 26.

Thirteen farm families were acknowledged for their proactive measures to protect natural resources at the 14th Annual CARES Dinner hosted by Suwannee River Partnership at the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center.

 The farmers participating in the CARES program have employed Best Management Practices (BMPs) which were designed by the UF/ IFAS, established by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) research in order to better serve, protect and conserve natural resources as well as for the advancement of agriculture.

Since its inception, the CARES program estimates about 1 billion gallons of water is saved annually and nitrogen loading is reduced by 3,250 tons annually. The Florida Farm Bureau created CARES in 2001. Since then nearly 600 farms have been honored with the CARES award.

The 2014 recipients in the District are: Bertine Farms (Bradford), Hawkins Farms (Columbia), Johnny and Margie Stephenson Farm (Dixie), Glory Produce Inc. (Gilchrist), Cook Farms (Gilchrist), GTO Farms (Gilchrist); Tyree Farm (Hamilton); Watson & Watson (Levy), Watermelon Pond Plantation  (Levy); McCook Family Farms LLC (Suwannee) Cribbs Brothers Farms (Suwannee), B & L Farming (Suwannee) and Double W Farms (Union).

When asked, what inspires farmers to take part in the CARES program, Mr. Ronald Cribbs responded, “We want to be good stewards of the land for future generations. My family is a source that inspiration, to keep our land healthy using precision agriculture.”

Honorees were acknowledged by dignitaries from around the state including: U.S. Congressman Ted Yoho; Florida Department of Consumer Services Commissioner Adam Putnam; Florida Secretary the of Department of Environmental Protection Herschel T. Vinyard; Florida Farm Bureau President John L. Hoblick; Suwannee River Water Management Board Chair Don Quincy; Vice President of UF/ IFAS Dr. Jack Payne; NRCS State Conservationist Russell Morgan and former State Representative Dwight Stansel.

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