All posts by Courtney Darling

Growing Forward: Danielle Daum, Highlands County

March 2023 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Danielle Daum
Women’s Leadership Committee Chair

Danielle Daum has spent her whole life immersed in agriculture. Having grown up on her family’s caladium farm in Highlands County, Happiness Farms, she has been involved in every aspect of the operation. Danielle is the third generation to work her family’s farm, providing top quality caladiums since 1964. Happiness Farms has since diversified into citrus production and is currently the world’s largest commercial caladium farm.

She has done everything on the farm, “From pulling weeds and packing bulbs after school to managing the office.” said Daum. She is now in charge of making sure the operation is within compliance and that both retail and wholesale customers are taken care of.

Much like farming, being a part of the Florida Farm Bureau Federation is a family affair. Danielle’s father was highly active in Farm Bureau and served on advisory committees. Naturally, Danielle found herself involved with the Young Farmers and Ranchers program in her home county, which eventually led to participation with the Farm Bureau Women’s Committee. She is one of the founders and chairwomen of the Highlands County Ag-Venture, an event that started 24 years ago and educates 1,200 third graders about agriculture every year. This event has been so successful that it has been modeled by other county and state Farm Bureaus. Danielle is happy to serve as a mentor for those looking to grow their County Farm Bureaus with such events.

When asked what she enjoys most about Farm Bureau, Daum answered “I love the people and getting the opportunity to work with like-minded individuals that also have a passion for the industry. I see the value in agriculture, and I want to encourage others to see the value in it as well.”

Having received a degree in elementary and special education from Florida Southern College, it is no surprise that Danielle has utilized her education and passion to help others understand the importance of agriculture and Farm Bureau. She currently serves as the chair of the Florida Farm Bureau State Women’s Leadership Committee, where she uses this role to continue to be a champion for the agriculture industry.

“Growing forward to me means persevering through the challenges both big and small. It’s about continuing to push forward despite challenges.” Danielle said. “Looking for the positive in every situation and always trying to do your best.”

Land Grant Partner

March FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

dr angleBy J. Scott Angle
[email protected]

When you use fertilizer, would you rather have science or politics as the guide for how much?

I know how your president comes down on this. Because of his testimony in Tallahassee last month, members of the Florida Senate Agriculture Committee do, too.

“We need good, solid scientific data generated by our land-grant institution,” Smith told the committee (he starts at 22:07 here). So not just science, but land-grant science. Because UF/IFAS, as your land-grant institution, gathers data so it can address your challenges.

It’s been that way for longer than any of us can remember. A few days after Smith went to Tallahassee, I was in Belle Glade to mark the centennial of the Everglades Research and Education Center. I used the occasion to highlight data that shows that over the past quarter century, local growers using farming practices guided by UF/IFAS science has cut the nutrient loads in the water coming off those farms by more than half.

That’s the kind of success story we need to replicate statewide. The timing is right, as water quality continues as one of the state’s top political priorities. President Smith’s validation of UF/IFAS science makes it more likely that evidence, not intuition, will shape the policies on how farmers fertilize.

IFAS Advancement’s Dinner of Distinction event on Friday, September 16th, 2022.

“I just want to say that supporting funding for UF/IFAS best management practices fertilizer rate application studies is imperative. Our members and producers support sound science and its implementation,” Smith told the committee.

About 18 months ago, we started research projects across the state and in various commodities. Some of our fertilization recommendations are decades old. It’s a huge and expensive task to come up with fertilizer recommendations for so many crops in so many locations with so many different climates and soil conditions.

Last year, with the help of the Farm Bureau’s advocacy, we received substantial state support to tackle as much of this as we can. This can’t be done in a year, though, so we’re seeking a continuation of that support, and again, the Farm Bureau is there championing science.

President Smith’s endorsement of science is so important because it reflects a political reality. Lawmakers want to know that there’s a return on investment from their spending. They heard that there is from the leader of 130,000+ members of the state’s agriculture community and a longtime farmer himself.

I have no crystal ball that tells me whether funding for fertilizer rate research or any other agricultural science will get approved in the legislative session that just started. But it’s gratifying to know Farm Bureau leaders see science as crucial to agriculture’s success.

Scott Angle is the University of Florida’s Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and leader of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).

The Role of Farmers and Ranchers in Carbon Economy

March FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This process has become popular as a method to reducing our carbon footprint and it has been taken a step further with the development of a carbon economy. Low carbon economy refers to the ecological economy based on low energy consumption and low pollution. The concept behind the creating and trading of carbon credits is to incentivize the implementation of management practices focused on the storage of carbon in the soil.

The ability to store carbon in the soil helps remove CO2 from the atmosphere, through a process called carbon sequestration. Agriculture and natural resource management practices can facilitate carbon sequestration. These practices often align with current Best Management Practices (BMPs) including cover cropping, crop rotation, no-till and refined nutrient management.

Farmers and ranchers can generate soil carbon credits by adopting conservation practices that result in quantifiable carbon sequestration. Carbon credits are exchanged through carbon markets and payments vary by many factors, including biophysical characteristics and management practices.

A recent UF/IFAS publication on Florida’s agricultural carbon economy and the potential role of farmers and ranchers can be found here.

Nominate A Local Farmer/ Rancher for the 2023 CARES Award

March FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Florida Farm Bureau’s CARES program publicly recognizes Florida farmers and ranchers who demonstrate exemplary efforts to protect Florida’s natural resources by implementing Best Management Practices.
Recipients are awarded a This Farm CARES sign to demonstrate to all Floridians that agricultural producers are fully committed to protecting Florida’s environment.


Help us continue to formally recognize and share the stories of Florida farmers and ranchers and their efforts to be good environmental stewards by nominating your own farm/ ranch or that of a colleague.

While the deadline for nomination throughout the state is June 16, 2023, those wanting to be recognized at the 2023 Suwanee CARES event must have their nominations in by March 17, 2023.

The 22nd Suwannee CARES celebration will be held Tuesday May 2, 2023, at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Live Oak from 6-8:00 p.m. In cooperation with the Suwannee River Partnership and multiple agricultural organizations and agencies, the Suwannee CARES Celebration hosts more than 600 families and community members annually. This event recognizes farmers and ranchers from across 16 counties within the Suwannee River Basin.

To nominate a farmer or rancher for their commitment to conserving our state’s natural resources for future generations, click here.

Email questions regarding the nomination process to [email protected] or contact the CARES Coordinator at (352) 204-7609.

Land Grant Partner

February FloridAgriculture eNewsletterdr angle

By J. Scott Angle
[email protected]

Kayla and Matt Gonzales are unicorns in the herd. They’re first-generation agriculturalists. Just the fact that a young couple with neither family farming history nor inherited land runs 300 commercial Brangus is reason enough for optimism about Florida farming’s future.

In addition to ranching, they’re leading. They’re doing so despite lacking another invaluable commodity for people establishing themselves as food producers—time.

In the last two years, Kayla and Matt have become parents and have another child on the way, they’ve changed jobs and they’ve taken out their first land leases. Matt estimates he’s driven 50,000 miles in a year for work. Kayla is enrolled in the Florida Cattlemen’s Association Leadership Academy.

They sometimes tend to their cows in the dark after finishing their day jobs, working by the illumination of their pickup truck’s headlights and handheld flashlights. The phone in the photo is not a prop. Matt was on a work call.

Kayla and Matt Gonzales

For them to lead the Florida Farm Bureau’s statewide Young Farmers & Ranchers, Matt as president and Kayla as a member of the executive board, is a lesson to all of us that everyone has time to lead.

They’ve reached across generations through their leadership. Producers who began farming before Kayla and Matt were born have benefited from the UF/IFAS Extension programming that the couple and their employers have organized, sponsored or hosted. UF/IFAS animal sciences faculty member Todd Thrift says Kayla was essential to the success of the beef quality assurance training at Quincey Cattle Company (where she worked until recently taking a job with Fenco Farms) that has improved the skills and management decisions of dozens of cattle professionals.

Levy County Extension Director Ed Jennings says the support of Kayla and Matt, who works at Dairy Farmers of America) and supported Extension at his former employer, Sparr, has been important to the success of local Extension programming.

Kayla and Matt also lead by fostering next-generation agriculturalists. Kayla has spoken about careers in cattle numerous times to classes of her alma mater, the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. They’ve helped their employers hire and supervise UF/IFAS interns. Jennings said Kayla hosted visits by 4-Hers to the Quincey ranch so they could practice their judging on the animals.

Kayla and Matt also foster the future as supporters of research. UF/IFAS Professor Raluca Mateescu noted that Kayla’s understanding of research needs and her efficiency on the ranch contributed to the success of her team of more than 10 students who collected data from animals at Quincey Cattle Company for thermotolerance research.

The most important commodity that FFBF, FCA and UF/IFAS produce is leaders. We can’t create more hours in the day for Kayla and Matt, but by fostering their early-career development, we hope to have set them up for decades of leadership ahead.

Scott Angle is the University of Florida’s Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and leader of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).