Area farmers recognized for protecting water resources

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Gainesville, Fla. – Three farmers were honored in Hillsborough and Polk counties for successfully protecting water resources.

Ranch owner Wiley McCall, Two Crackers Ranch and Two Hombres Ranch, Steve Mathis, Mathis Farms, and Ray Wood, Wood’s Tree Farm were each presented with a County Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship (CARES) award at the Polk County and Hillsborough County Farm Bureau Annual Meetings on Oct 3.

“I am honored to recognize our farmers and ranchers for voluntarily going the extra mile in conserving our natural resources,” said Florida Farm Bureau President John Hoblick. “This award highlights their commitment to superior resource management.”

Wiley McCall has adopted techniques of precise nutrient management, implemented rotational grazing schedules for beef cattle and has installed alternative water sources and structures for surface water control.

Steve Mathis implements weather stations and soil moisture monitoring on his 100-acre strawberry and blueberry farm in Plant City. He also utilizes frost cloth to protect berries from freezes instead of overhead irrigation.

Ray Wood also uses frost cloth for tree protection on his farm and preserves water by using daily, low-volume drip irrigation. Grass borders edge the tree farm to reduce erosion and offer wildlife habitat.

The CARES program was established by Florida Farm Bureau and the Suwannee River Partnership in 2001 to recognize superior natural resource conservation by agricultural producers.  Since its inception, more than 550 agriculturists statewide have received the CARES award. The program relies on the voluntary action by farmers and ranchers to implement state-of-the-art natural resource management systems, or Best Management Practices (BMP), on their properties. CARES award winners have received certification from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that their farming operations have successfully met state BMP standards.

The CARES program involves partnerships with more than 60 organizations including The Mosaic Company, the world’s leading producer of phosphate and potash crop nutrients. Mosaic is committed to helping increase awareness of CARES and agriculture’s environmental stewardship in Polk and Highlands County and the surrounding area. Mosaic supports other nutrient stewardship programs in the U.S. and across the globe.

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Pictured from left: John Hoblick, President, Florida Farm Bureau, Heather Nedley, Public Affairs Manager, The Mosaic Company, and Wiley McCall, CARES recipient and owner of Two Crackers Ranch and Two Hombres Ranch.


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Pictured from left: Scot Eubanks, FFBF, Jim Wood, Wood’s Tree Farm, Steve Mathis, Mathis Farms, Inc., Chris Falter, Mathis Farms, Inc., and Jessica Stempien, FDACS Office of Ag Water Policy (Photo courtesy of  In The Field Magazine).

About Florida Farm Bureau

Florida Farm Bureau is the Sunshine State’s largest general agricultural organization with more than 147,000 member-families representing Farm Bureaus in 60 counties. Membership provides a multitude of benefits and you don’t have to be a farmer to be a member of Florida Farm Bureau. More information about Florida Farm Bureau is available at


About The Mosaic Company

The Mosaic Company is the world’s largest combined producer and marketer of concentrated phosphate and potash, two essential crop nutrients. Driven by its mission to help the world grow the food it needs, Mosaic is committed to strengthening global food security and protecting critical water resources. The Mosaic Company and The Mosaic Company Foundation make investments in and partner with best-of-class leaders in the focus areas of food, water and local community investments. More information about Mosaic is available at


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