This week, state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced winners for the 2021 Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award.
Award recipients come from different parts of Florida’s agricultural industry, but they all share a commitment to protecting and preserving Florida’s resources while producing commodities that keep our food supply and economy strong.
“Two-thirds of Florida’s land is connected to agriculture– including nearly 10 million acres of farmland, from the produce farms of South Florida, to the citrus groves of Central Florida, to the timber stands of North Florida,” said Fried. “As I congratulate our 2021 Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award winners, I also thank them for their commitment to innovation and sustainability in agriculture. Every acre of farmland is an opportunity, and together we can to preserve our precious natural resources for generations to come.”
The Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award recognizes agricultural producers who demonstrate leadership in developing and implementing innovative techniques to safeguard the environment and conserve natural resources. The USDA has projected a “dire climate-change impact on U.S. crops,” and Florida faces some of the nation’s greatest risks of extreme heat, inland and coastal flooding, drought, wildfires, and stronger hurricanes.
The 2021 winners are:
- Mr. Sandy Stein with the Jungle Nursery in Homestead
Mr. Stein is being recognized for his innovative approach to addressing pest risks to the nursery’s plants by utilizing beneficial insects to control those that would be destructive, opting for biocontrol rather than chemical treatments.
- Mr. Brad Turner with Turner Family Groves, LLC in Lithia
Mr. Turner is being recognized for his commitment to promoting soil and tree health through the implementation of regenerative management practices, reducing the need for fertilizer and insecticides and increasing water retention.
- Mr. Eric Hjort with Tater Farm in Hastings
Mr. Hjort is being recognized for his focus on adopting innovative practices to protect water quality and reduce water use by about 50 percent across 1,500 acres.
Nominations for the award are evaluated by a committee composed of representatives from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, The Nature Conservancy, the state’s Water Management Districts, the Florida Farm Bureau, the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, the Florida Dairy Association, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Florida Citrus Mutual, the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association, and the Florida Forestry Association.
The following environmental practices were considered in judging nominations for the 2021 Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award:
- Wildlife protection and Habitat Conservation: Provide a safe, vibrant habitat for wildlife within an agricultural operation.
- Pesticide/Nutrient Management: Use pesticides/nutrients responsibly, maximizing benefits and minimizing potential adverse environmental effects.
- Water Quality: Preserve or improve water quality within or adjacent to an agricultural operation.
- Soil and Water Conservation: Reduce soil erosion, nutrient depletion and water consumption, and enhance water recharge.
- Waste Management/Recycling: Reduce waste by recycling agricultural by-products and waste products on site.
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