Live Oak, Florida farmer William Carte, continues to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) after his father, Thomas Carte, earned a County Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship (CARES) award in 2001.
The CARES program was created by Florida Farm Bureau in 2001 to promote public recognition of state-of-the art agriculture production techniques. CARES recognizes farmers and ranchers who have implemented BMPs designed to maximize the conservation and protection of natural resources.
Fenced off water holes and conservation tillage are among the strategies that Carte has implemented to preserve Florida’s natural resources on his farm where he and his wife, Sarah, grow peanuts and raise cattle.
“Water conservation is an area we would like to see more of in the future,” Carte said. “Within two years we will have low pressure systems that use less water.”
We have a responsibility to take care of this land, We own it but it’s not ours.William CarteBMPs can also include structural entities such as settling ponds, careful management strategies such as rotational grazing and the precise use of fertilizer applications.
“Every farm operation is different so it’s about doing what is right for your farm,” Carte said. “We have found it doesn’t take nearly as much as what farmers originally thought to grow crops,” he said. “In fact, you can produce the same amount, if not more, with less fertilizer.”
Carte and his wife, who have been heavily involved in the Florida Farm Bureau Federation for eleven years, credit the organization for its service as the voice of agriculture in the Sunshine State. The Cartes have served as leaders in Florida Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers program.
“We don’t have time to sit here and see what is happening on the legislative level,” Carte said. “Sometimes things can happen fast and the staff at Farm Bureau is keeping an eye on what is going on.”
He is able to network and discuss what BMPs other farmers and ranchers are implementing on their land because of his Farm Bureau relationships.
“We have a responsibility to take care of this land, we own it but it’s not ours,” Carte said.
Farm Bureau began the program in cooperation with the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Suwannee River Water Management District.
CARES is designed to help non-farm residents, including public agency personnel, understand the superior natural resource stewardship of Florida’s agricultural producers and the vital role of their properties in the preservation of greenspace, fresh water recharge areas and wildlife habitat.