“WHY DO YOU FARM?” This is a question that most farmers and ranchers hear over and over, year after year. One short answer is “Family,” and not just for our own families. In reality, the pursuit of agriculture production can at times present challenges to fulfilling our responsibilities to our own families — and the fact is that our duty extends beyond ourselves to the task of growing nutritional food products for all of our fellow citizens.
We face many daily obstacles in this pursuit. And with so many variables to contend with, farmers and ranchers know the importance of counting each and every victory and blessing. Recent rainfall measures, dedicated industry leaders, and the support of legislators who understand the underlying values behind our efforts, are just a few of the blessings that I am mindful of today.
Despite a turbulent legislative session, our industry leadership once again remained resolute in its support of programs critical to the survival of our state’s citrus industry through Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, Sen. Denise Grimsley (R-Sebring), and others’ diligent support of greening research initiatives and the Citrus Health Response Program.
Farmers and ranchers also gained a number of agricultural sales tax exemptions this year that will allow us to continue our labors. A top legislative priority of Florida Farm Bureau over the last two session, this victory is the result of the work of our grassroots members and the leadership of the Florida House and Senate. I’d like to personally thank Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) and Rep. Jake Raburn (R-Lithia) who sponsored the bill during the regular legislative session this spring and helped ensure its inclusion in the tax-cut package during the legislative special session. Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) and Rep. Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) sponsored this legislation in 2014 and worked tirelessly to support this legislation this year and fight for tax relief for farmers. And finally, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (R-Merritt Island) made sure these tax exemptions were part of the final budget negotiations between the House and Senate. For information on how these new exemptions can benefit your business, visit www.floridafarmbureau.org.
Thanks to the efforts of industry leaders, both members and non-members of Farm Bureau alike will receive these sales tax exemption benefits. However, if you are not a member of Farm Bureau, then I invite you to take inventory of the many benefits of membership that you are not realizing. For a list of the many tangible benefits of membership, visit www.floridafarmbureau.org/member_benefits.
More importantly, perhaps consider the benefits of being actively engaged in influencing the future outlook of your business success. Through Farm Bureau membership, you have the opportunity to be a part of the policy-making process and to share your ideas and concerns at a level that can truly have an impact. Florida Farm Bureau’s Advisory Committee addresses our state’s major commodities and issues of concern. A list of these committees can be found at http://www.floridafarmbureau.org/issues. If you are a member who would like to become more involved, or not a member and would like to join, contact Carole McKenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org or (863) 533-0561, ext. 111.
By its very nature, the pursuit of agriculture production will always be a challenging endeavor. But despite continuing current challenges and new ones that will invariably come up, I can’t think of a more honorable profession or higher responsibility than supplying food and nourishment to the world.
KYLE R. STORY
President, Polk County Farm Bureau