By Samantha Murray, UF/IFAS
Farms are businesses, and farmers have the double challenge of following a host of complex rules and regulations while also trying to turn a profit.
That’s why the University of Florida is hosting the first annual Growing Together: Central Florida Partners for Agriculture Symposium on July 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (2725 S Binion Rd, Apopka, FL 32703). The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required.
The event is geared toward both experienced and beginning farmers and ranchers in Central Florida looking for information and support to help their business succeed, said Morgan Pinkerton, one of the event’s organizers and a sustainable agriculture and food systems agent with UF/IFAS Extension Seminole County.
“We hope to use this event to connect farmers and aspiring farmers with the rules, regulations, resources and programs that they should be aware of or could benefit from participating in. We want participants to come away knowing where to find the information they need and who to get in contact with to help locally,” Pinkerton said.
Running a farm is about more than tending fields or raising animals, Pinkerton said. “A farmer has to juggle so many different things like water use, permitting, pest control, marketing, tax exemptions and many others. This can be extra difficult to navigate as the information on agriculture is often housed by many different organizations and there are a multitude of programs available from different agencies,” she explained.
“One of the goals of UF/IFAS Extension is to connect the agriculture industry with the resources they need to feed our communities, conserve natural resources and run successful businesses. The idea behind this event is to bring folks together and invite the various agencies involved in agriculture rules, regulations, and cost share opportunities and give stakeholders a chance to ask questions in an open format and learn from one another too,” she said.
In addition to rules and regulations, the symposium will include information about cost share programs. These programs provide technical and financial assistance to farmers increasing the environmental and economic sustainably of their operation — such as installing equipment that conserves water.
The symposium will also cover best management practices, tax exemptions for agriculture, loans, insurance, water use permitting and more, Pinkerton said.