Recently, families representing 50 operational ranches and farms from all across the state gathered in Tallahassee for one specific 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 a group committed to conserving Florida’s precious landscape, without jeopardizing any of the economic value that the land provides to the
Florida’s agricultural lands provide the food and fiber we have come to depend on and are among our state’s most valuable resources. Beyond the livelihood and rich culture these lands support, they provide billions of dollars in state and local taxes every year that fund education, first responders, and much more.
From the beginning, Florida farmers have proven themselves as great stewards of the state’s rural lands and natural resources. Because of this, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has collaborated with our state’s ranchers and farmers to protect important agricultural lands for generations to come.
FDACS’ Rural and Family Lands Protection Program was created to acquire perpetual agricultural conservation easements that ensure lands will be preserved in agricultural use — indefinitely. At the same time, by placing these agricultural lands in conservation easement and slowing the tide of development in rural Florida, we also are protecting natural resources with untold environmental benefits.
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 close to 10 active agricultural operations, totaling more than 5,029 acres
A few days after those families gathered in Tallahassee, the Florida Board of Trustees, which includes the governor, attorney general, chief financial officer, and myself, met to approve the Rural and Family Land Program’s newest addition, the K-Rocker Ranch. The K-Rocker Ranch is a third-generation, family-owned operation that farms sod and cattle. Its more than 1,300 acres are now protected from development while still producing world-class agricultural products.
Florida agricultural lands are a resource worth protecting. FDACS is committed to preserving Florida’s precious landscape for generations to come.