Rooted in Resilience – Hillsborough County Farm Bureau President, Dennis Carlton, Jr.

December 2021 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Hillsborough County Farm Bureau (HCFB) President, Dennis Carlton Jr., has deep roots in Florida agriculture. Carlton is an 8th generation Floridian who grew up in Dover in Hillsborough County.

He and his wife, Sara Beth, have two young children, Anna Kate and Dennis Carlton, III. Carlton is part-owner in his family’s beef cattle operation, an extensive cattle operation that spans six central Florida counties. He is also involved in real estate and owns properties that he leases to farmers for strawberry production, a crop that has a local economic impact of $700 million. He and his family are active members of FFW Baptist Church in Seffner.

Carlton has served as HCFB president for three years. It is a role that he holds dear to his heart. “I enjoy advocating on behalf of farmers and ranchers and am very tuned into agricultural issues that affect my community and state,” he said.
Carlton explained that agriculture in Hillsborough County is very diverse, with more than 2,200 farms and a population of 1.5 million. He stressed the importance of having a strong, active board of directors making a difference in their community and he is proud to serve alongside them.

HCFB is committed to pouring into youth in the community through agricultural education. Each year, the county Farm Bureau hosts an Ag Abilities event and an Ag Ventures Day where elementary school students can learn about local agriculture through hands-on activities.

Ag Abilities has been a remarkable success since 2001 thanks to Hillsborough County Farm Bureau Executive Director Judi Whitson. The event attracts young Exceptional Education Students (ESE) from schools throughout the county and is held at the state fairgrounds in Tampa. The half day competition allows volunteers to interact with students while they learn about agriculture. Sample categories include the foods we eat, tractor driving and animal breed identification. Students are served lunch and participate in an awards ceremony. It is a heartwarming day for the students as well as the volunteers who make the day such a great success.

Farm-City Week, held annually the week before Thanksgiving, is another opportunity in which Carlton uses to connect to consumers in his community. The week-long event is a celebration of the partnerships between urban and rural residents. This year, Carlton was invited to speak at an event hosted by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners on the importance of local agriculture and the benefits it provides.

“Hillsborough County Farm Bureau is dedicated to its members and upholding it’s strength as an organization within our community,” he said.