In November, families representing 50 operational farms and ranches from all across the state gathered in Tallahassee for one reason: preserving Florida’s invaluable agricultural lands. These families, many with three and four generations in attendance, presented their family-owned farms and ranches to be considered for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program.[emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”]
Florida’s agricultural lands provide the food and fiber we have come to depend on and are amongst our state’s most valuable resources. Beyond the livelihood and rich culture these lands provide, they support jobs and provide billions of dollars in state and local taxes every year that fund education, first responders, and much more.
For five centuries, Florida farmers have proven themselves to be great stewards of Florida’s rural lands and natural resources. And our state’s ranchers and farmers will play an important role in protecting Florida’s landscape for generations to come.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Rural and Family Lands Protection Program was created to establish agricultural conservation easements that ensure lands will be preserved in agricultural use. By placing these agricultural lands under conservation easements, we are slowing the tide of development in Florida and protecting natural resources with numerous environmental benefits, while keeping the ranches in operation.
Originally created in 2001, the department’s Rural and Family Lands Protection Program has collaborated with the agriculture community and successfully acquired the development rights of 9 active agricultural operations, totaling more than 5,000 acres of land.
Florida agricultural lands, and the jobs and culture they support, are a resource worth protecting. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is committed to working with Florida farms and ranches to preserve Florida’s precious landscape for generations to come.
column by COMMISSIONER ADAM H. PUTNAM