UF’s Impact on Florida

20170501

Jack Payne
Jack Payne

Please check out the new University of Florida website that documents the economic impact the university makes on Florida: http://economicimpact.ufl.edu/

It’s a university-wide document, but UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is all over it. I congratulate Alan Hodges, Mohammad Rahmani, and Rod Clouser of the UF/IFAS Food and Resource Economics Department on their work crunching the numbers.

The university – so often through UF/IFAS – boosts local economies from the Keys to Escambia County. The website brims with examples in statistics and stories.

Yes, stories. The UF/IFAS Communications team pinpointed, produced and polished illustrations of UF/IFAS impact in action, including:

  • Pasture productivity workshops in Calhoun County.
  • The Naturally EscaRosa agritourism campaign in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
  • Protecting the crop of rose growers in Gadsden County from a devastating virus.
  • How UF/IFAS forage Extension and research programs boost the profitability of Gilchrist County dairy farms.
  • UF/IFAS Sumter County Extension’s farm-city tours to introduce residents to their neighborhood farmers.
  • How a UF/IFAS-developed irrigation technique saved a Collier County eggplant farmer $600 an acre.
  • How UF/IFAS best management practices training contributed to a 79 percent reduction in phosphorus in agricultural water entering the Everglades.
UF/IFAS Columbia County Extension agent Mace Bauer (right) and Columbia County watermelon farmer Donell Gwinn examine a soil moisture monitoring device.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.
UF/IFAS Columbia County Extension agent Mace Bauer (right) and Columbia County watermelon farmer Donell Gwinn examine a soil moisture monitoring device.
UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Of course, these stories are only possible because of the work of our teams in county Extension offices, in research and education centers and in all our departments in Gainesville.

Some farmers tell us they’d be out of business if it weren’t for UF/IFAS.

Money talks, but sometimes it needs a translator. Fortunately, UF/IFAS has a bunch of them in Food and Resource Economics and IFAS Communications. They help us walk the talk about not relying on beliefs as the basis for our claims but instead, turning to evidence.

For visitors who come from the world outside agriculture, the website helps tell the story of agriculture in their community. It’s a story we tell in numbers, photos, videos and the relationships between Farm Bureau members and UF/IFAS scientists.

By Jack Payne
@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.