Farm City awards: CARES

CARES (County Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship) award winners from three local families pose together after presentation of their awards, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019, at the Farm City awards breakfast in Marianna. Representatives of McGriff Farms, 3J Farms and Mason Farms are shown.

In 2001, the County Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship, or CARES program, was created. Almost two decades later Farm Bureau continues to publicly recognize farmers and ranchers who demonstrate exemplary environmental protection by implementing Best Management Practices, or BMPs, on their farms and ranches. Through the implementation of BMPs, Florida farmers and ranchers have shown a sincere commitment to protecting our state’s environment and Farm Bureau is proud to recognize them for their efforts.

As part of the CARES program, recipients are awarded a customized This Farm CARES sign to display at their farm gate or on a nearby roadway. This sign helps demonstrate to the general public that Florida agriculture is committed to protecting local natural resources. To date, more than 800 Florida farm families proudly display a CARES sign on their property.

Farm Bureau partners with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as well as the University of Florida/IFAS for the CARES program. Justin Bryan, FDACS Office of Ag Water Policy, and Billy Bigham, Jackson County Farm Bureau presented the CARES Awards to the following farms in 2019.

3J Farms

3J Farms is owned and operated by brothers, Mike, John and Steve Jordan. Together, these fourth-generation families produce peanuts, cotton and pickle cucumbers in Bascom. Since 2015, they have implemented BMPs to help accomplish their goals of protecting the natural resources and property, which lies inside of the Blue Springs Basin. They believe environmental protection is simply the right thing to do. Some of the most effective BMPs implemented include utilizing the Mobile Irrigation Lab to convert to low pressure irrigation systems, thus reducing overall water use. They also work closely with a certified crop consultant who analyzes the nutrient needs of specific crops. To protect water quality and also soil health, they plant cover crops and also use conservation and strip-tillage. Buffers and field border also help filter excessive nutrients.

Florida Farm Bureau is proud to award 3J Farms a 2019 CARES designation and sign, because 3J Farms Cares.

McGriff Farms

Another recipient recognized is McGriff Farms, operated by Shedrick, Denise, Mason, and Marcus McGriff. The McGriffs produce corn, peanuts, cotton, peas and oats near Bascom. The family continues to invest in environmental protection efforts in order to protect and preserve local water resources. Some of the most effective BMPs implemented since 2014 include using variable rate fertilizer application to precisely apply nutrients exactly where needed. The family also regularly samples soil around the property in order to analyze the nutritional content and make decisions towards nutrient management. Cover crops are planted to help retain soil moisture and improve soil health.

Florida Farm Bureau is proud to award McGriff Farms a 2019 CARES designation and sign, because McGriff Farms Cares.

Mason Farms

Another recipient recognized is the duo of Todd and Amy Mason on Mason Farms. Mason produced peanuts and cotton from the farm’s inception. Environmental protection has been a major priority to this farm family. Some of the most effective BMPs implemented included strip tillage to protect soil health. Soil samples are also regularly taken to help guide nutrient management decisions for the upcoming growing season. Field borders are also maintained to capture excessive nutrient attempting to runoff as well as provide habitat for wildlife.

Florida Farm Bureau is proud to award Todd and Amy Mason with a 2019 CARES designation and sign, because Mason Farms Cares.

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Editor’s Note: Mayo advises that the following information was compiled from contributions provided by the farm families being recognized, and the cooperating agency personnel for presentation at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Farm City Breakfast.

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