Farmers and growers from across the state gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday to advocate for Florida’s $140 billion agriculture industry.
Danielle Daum, a third-generation farmer at Happiness Farms in Highlands County, came to support her family and other growers across the state.
“The reason we are here is to talk to legislators about our agricultural issues and ask them to support the initiatives that benefit our state,” she said.
The day consisted of a breakfast, where farmers heard from Senate President Bill Galvano and other legislators. Farmers attended small group meetings with the Senators and State Representatives who come from their region. In the evening, the industry welcomed the public to a Taste of Florida reception in the Capitol Courtyard.
Daum said the reception celebrated the best that Florida agriculture has to offer and helped educate legislators, staff and other members of the public about the products grown in Florida. “We are able to tell them where the products are from and educate them and answer any questions that may have,” she said.
Growers this year are advocating to strengthen Best Management Practices, which they believe are key to restoring and protecting Florida’s water resources.
“We know that resources are finite, and they can only sustain our growing state for so long,” said John Hoblick, president of the Florida Farm Bureau Federation. “Agriculture is part of the solution. We are proactive when it comes to protecting our natural resources. We live on our farms and our farmland. The last thing we want to do is leave it in ruins for our children and grandchildren.”
Best Management Practices were developed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in collaboration with Water Management Districts, local governments and other stakeholders. They are tailored to each region of the state and are proven to be effective.
With Best Management Practices, farms across the state have made vast improvements in their operations, using resources more efficiently and more effectively, while reducing their impact on the environment.
But new innovations and technologies can be incorporated into the Best Management Practices, and farmers want to do their part to care for the land and water resources that provide for them.
Earlier this fall, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a proposal that calls for substantial improvements to water resources across the state. Many have labeled it a comprehensive approach, in that it addresses wastewater management, supports the conversion of septic to sewer and aims to strengthen agriculture’s efforts to protect the environment.
When it comes to agriculture, the goal is to update Best Management Practices to incorporate the latest research, innovations and technologies. Plus, enrolling more agricultural operations in the program can have an even greater impact statewide.
“I truly think this was successful,” Daum said of the advocacy day.