Growing Forward: James Sutton, Sumter County

April 2023 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

James Sutton
Sumter County President, District 11

James Sutton grew up in Pasco County but moved to Sumter County when he was young. He grew up on his father’s cow/calf ranch and inherited it alongside his uncles and cousins.

Sutton attended Hillsborough Community College where he studied emergency services. He served for thirty years on the Sumter County Fire Department and continued to have cattle during his time of service. After retiring three years ago, he has been focused on the growth of his ranch. In addition to cattle, he has a timber operation in Georgia.

Sutton grew up hearing about Farm Bureau throughout high school, and after moving to Sumter County, had a conversation with the Sumter County President about becoming a member. After two years of membership, Sutton was elected to their board as vice president and has served as president for 11 years. He is now completing his second year as a state board member.

“Staff across the state are dedicated to the agricultural industry of Florida,” said Sutton. “We all come together for one common goal and that’s the survival of ag. Whether it’s a small farm or 1,000 acres, each member is treated the same way. We are always looking for the best for each one of them and are always striving to be better at farming and being the voice of agriculture.”

One of Sutton’s favorite ways to be the voice of agriculture is during Farm-City Week in November. His county board and members focus on showcasing agriculture through educational farm tours and a showcase in the Villages Town Center.

“We have a big community called The Villages and always try to bridge the gap to help them understand our way of life,” said Sutton. “This event is the best and most productive way to get others to understand.”

As the population continues to grow in Sumter County, Sutton continues to look for ways to educate members of their community about the importance of agriculture and telling the story of farmers.

“I’m growing forward in trying to maintain the way of life of the Florida farmer. Whatever it takes, that is what I’m growing in.”