Payne Knows Suwannee CARES

FloridAgriculture  e-News
June 2016

Pictured left to right: Kevin Morgan, FFBF, Noah Velenstein, SRWMD, CARES Recipient Lyles Corbin, Commissioner Adam Putnam and Jack Payne, UF/IFAS.
Pictured left to right: Kevin Morgan, FFBF, Noah Velenstein, SRWMD, CARES Recipient Lyles Corbin, Commissioner Adam Putnam and Jack Payne, UF/IFAS.

Nearly one in every five Florida farms is located in the Suwannee Valley region, so it’s fertile Farm Bureau territory.

That’s a big reason I’ve helped deliver $1 million to the Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center in the past two years from my office, from other parts of UF/IFAS and from sources matching UF/IFAS money.

I was proud to announce some of the details at the Suwannee CARES event in early May:

  • A five-fold increase in operational funding for the center.
  • Renovations and expansion of the center’s conference room.
  • A renovated office and lab building.
  • A three-year lease on three tractors.
  • A variable-rate irrigation system and surface water pumping station for water and nutrient management research.
  • One of five UF/IFAS regional specialized water agents for Florida has been dispatched to Live Oak.
  • A new agronomic crops Extension agent co-funded with Suwannee County government.

I wanted to deliver this news in person because the Farm Bureau’s Suwannee CARES event is one of the great gatherings of Florida agriculture for a number of reasons.

First, it brings together the state’s leading agricultural advocates as partners. I was honored to share the podium with Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam and Florida Farm Bureau’s Kevin Morgan.

Second, it honors environmental stewardship. We simply cannot sustain farming in Florida – or anywhere else – if we don’t protect the natural resources that make farming possible in the first place.

Third, it’s a place where growers and other stakeholders speak loudly and clearly, and where UF/IFAS listens well. Many of the items on the list above resulted from the input of Farm Bureau members on the center’s advisory board. Center director Bob Hochmuth does a great job channeling that input into recommendations and making the case in Gainesville for increased UF/IFAS investment.

Those are all things UF/IFAS strives for wherever a Farm Bureau member is located – partnership, sustainability and a two-way conversation about how to help Florida agriculture flourish.

By Jack Payne
jackpayne@ufl.edu
@JackPayneIFAS

Jack Payne is the University of Florida’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources and leader of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.