Picking up ingredients for your family’s favorite Thanksgiving dishes locally can be so easy that we sometimes take for granted our ranchers’ and farmers’ hard work to provide the food we all rely on. Agriculture has been and will continue to be the cornerstone of society — it is the industry that provides for one of our most basic needs. Some elements of agriculture have remained unchanged over centuries while others have changed radically with scientific and technological advancements.
Agriculture is not for the faint of heart. It has always drawn people who are stubborn, resilient, courageous and love the land that gives the bounty. Ranchers and farmers must embody these traits to weather whatever Mother Nature throws their way, whether it’s too much rain, too little rain, or an invasive pest or disease. Agriculture is both robust and fragile, and it requires commitment and adaptability. Farmers have faced these challenges for hundreds of years, and they face them today.
While the heat, hard work and vagaries of nature haven’t been automated, agriculture today is high tech. Innovative ranchers, farmers and researchers are finding ways to do more with less. As our population soars and the demands for land and water increase, our ranchers and farmers are turning to science to decrease inputs and increase yields. It’s not Old McDonald’s Farm anymore. Florida’s 47,000 farms are sophisticated operations that implement cutting-edge technology and constantly evaluate the results.
With a recent report projecting that by 2070 Florida will have 15 million new residents, the stress on our resources will only grow. As always Florida’s farmers and ranchers will continue to be leaders in conservation and innovation ensuring that they are able to produce the abundant food and fiber we depend on as a state and nation while being good stewards of the resources entrusted to them.
As you gather with your family and loved ones this Thanksgiving, let’s all be grateful for our dedicated ranchers and farmers who work day in and day out to produce our safe, affordable and abundant food. And when you sit down to enjoy your “Fresh From Florida” meal, remember that it all began on a farm.
Adam Putnam is Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture.