As the first stewards of natural resources, Florida’s farm families make every day their Earth Day. They live and work on the land with the goal of transferring a tradition of food and fiber production to future generations.
They maintain freshwater recharge areas, support wildlife habitat and preserve green space.
Our state’s farmers and ranchers also conserve more than 11 billion gallons of freshwater each year through precise irrigation techniques and comprehensive recycling systems. They routinely pursue advanced methods of natural resource management. In just one year, for example, the South Florida Water Management District has reported that in the Lake Okeechobee Basin farm owners reduced the phosphorus content of water flowing from their properties by more than 70 percent.
Agricultural producers also make substantial contributions toward moderating a general upward trend in temperature. According to researchers at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the average temperature on this state’s farmland during the past century has cooled by one degree. This pattern contrasts sharply with what has occurred in urban areas.
Such contributions do not occur by accident. They require careful management and long-term investment. All Floridians share with farm families the duty of environmental stewardship.
Okeechobee dairyman Ben Butler recently pointed out that, “As farmers, we feel the responsibility to feed our population. We feel the responsibility of looking after our natural resources. But our fellow residents are also responsible. We all need to participate.”