January 2024 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter
Benjamin Putnam comes from a family of agriculturalists in rural Polk County. He is a sixth-generation farmer and grew up working cattle with his uncle, fixing irrigation in the citrus grove, and helping around the farm where needed. His involvement on the family farm helped instill in him a passion for agriculture.
Upon graduation from Auburn University with a degree in business management, Putnam decided to move back home and work full-time at Putnam Groves, his family’s citrus operation.
“After my Uncle Will passed away, my cousin Christian and I talked a lot about my plans after college,” said Putnam. “It felt right to move back to Bartow and work at the farm.”
The family farm has 1,300 head of cattle spanning over Polk, Hardee, and Highlands counties and 1,000 acres of citrus, specifically Valencia and Hamlin varieties. They have recently started hay production and are refurbishing pastures through rotational grazing.
“We started rotational grazing and allowing some family friends to grow watermelons in our pastures to help with weed control and help add more grazing land for our cattle next year,” said Putnam. “This has really allowed us to continue to be good stewards of the land.”
Although Putnam has grown up around Farm Bureau, it was his cousin that encouraged him to become more involved with their local Young Farmers & Ranchers group and apply for the leadership team. He has enjoyed being more involved in the community and sharing agriculture’s story with the public.
“Last year, we were able to donate 160 pounds of blueberries through Harvest for All,” said Putnam. “We also set up a booth at the Lakeland Farmer’s Market and talk to people about agriculture and pass out Publix gift cards to help pay for some of their groceries.”
Putnam also looks forward to visiting with other farmers in the community at their county annual meeting in October.
When asked what he is looking forward to over the next two years on the state leadership team, Putnam is excited to get more involved with Florida Farm Bureau and learn how to better advocate for the agriculture industry.
“I’m strengthening my tie to agriculture by learning how to be a better spokesperson for the industry through the opportunities the leadership group will provide me,” said Putnam. “I’m excited for opportunities to network with other young farmers from around the country and learn about agriculture and advocacy in their state at the American Farm Bureau Federation YF&R Leadership Conference in March.”