Frequently Asked Questions
CARES is an award and recognition program that was established in 2001 by the Florida Farm Bureau to publicly recognize farmers and ranchers who have voluntarily implemented Best Management Practices (BMPs) on their farm and promote environmentally sound and economically viable farming practices. The CARES program also serves as a tool to educate and demonstrate to the public that Florida agriculture is actively involved in protecting our precious resources by implementing sound environmental management and nutrient stewardship practices.
CARES was established in 2001 by the Florida Farm Bureau and a coalition of farmers, commodity groups, agricultural associations, and state and federal agencies to provide public recognition to farmers and ranchers who have voluntarily implemented nutrient stewardship practices on their farm or ranch. By providing a public recognition program, farmers and communities throughout Florida recognize the importance of agriculture and the environment.
CARES was established in 2001.
There are nearly 950 recipients who have been recognized. Visit our profiles page.
Recipients of the CARES program receive a CARES award and a “This Farm CARES” sign to publicly display on their farm.
To become a CARES recipient, a producer must:
- Sign a Letter of Intent with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Office of Agricultural Water Policy (OAWP)
- Implement FDACS’ BMPs
- Have FDACS OAWP staff sign off that the producer is properly following the BMPs
- Continue to maintain FDACS’ BMPs
- Be in good standing with the FDACS Implementation Assurance program.
Contact FDACS OAWP to find more information on implementing BMPs.
Producers who implement enroll in the FDACS program are eligible for cost share support for certain BMPs if there are funds available. For more information on current available FDACS cost share programs, visit the Office of Agricultural Water Policy webpage.
BMPs are based on University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) research and are practical measures that producers can take to reduce the amount of fertilizers, pesticides, animal waste, and other pollutants entering our water resources. They are designed to improve water quality while maintaining agricultural production. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has adopted BMPs for most commodities in the state. Each BMP manual covers key aspects of water quality and water conservation.
- A presumption of compliance with state water quality standards for the pollutants addressed by the BMPs.
- Release from the provisions of s. 376.307(5), F.S., (fines for damages) for pollutants addressed by the BMPs.
- Technical assistance implementation with BMPs.
- Eligibility for cost share for certain BMPs (as available).
- The Florida Right to Farm Act generally prohibits local governments from regulating an agricultural activity that is addressed through rule-adopted BMPs when farmers implement them.
- Producers who implement FDACS-adopted BMPs might qualify for exemptions from water management district surface water permitting, and/or satisfy other permitting requirements.
- Some BMPs increase production efficiency and reduce costs.
- BMP participation demonstrates agriculture’s commitment to water resource protection, and maintains support for this approach to meeting water quality and conservation goals.