By ANNE C. HEYMEN
SAINT AUGUSTINE – “I’m farm raised and farm proud,” Bryan Jones, president of the Putnam-St. Johns County Farm Bureau and a third generation St. Johns County farmer, told a gathering of some 100 Thursday. The occasion was to honor recipients of the Farm Bureau’s 2018 CARES Recipients, during the yearly luncheon at the St. Johns County Agricultural Center.
Recognized this year were Scott Parker, Scott Parker Farms, Inc., St. Johns County; Walton Cowart, Cowart Ranch, Flagler County; and Ken Patterson, Island Grove LLC, Putnam, Alachua and DeSota counties.
Parker was recognized for raising chip and small potatoes and for his enrollment in the Best Management Practices program since 2011.
Cowart raises commercial beef cattle. He, too, has been involved in the Best Management program since 2011.
Patterson raises organic and conventional blueberries for commercial production and for Island Grove Wine Company.
Recipients were introduced by Cacee Hilliard, Farm Bureau CARES coordinator, with her presentation including a brief film featuring the three honorees.
The “uneducated public” is what is hurting farmers today, Jones told the gathering composed of farmers, politicians and civic leaders. Farmers, he emphasized, provide good food which is safe and healthy. Fake news is “alive and well,” Jones suggested. “Stop buying into it,” also stressing that “we are not and must never be dependent on other countries for our food.”
Stressing the importance of agriculture to the St. Johns County economy, he noted that agriculture has a $180 million impact here.
“We are a dying breed,” Jones told said. “We must stop that today.” People must stop taking farmers for granted.
Thursday’s luncheon was served by members of the St. Johns County 4-H Clubs, coordinated by Geralyn Sachs. County Commissioner Jeb Smith, a member of the Farm Bureau, offered the invocation for the gathering.