At the FARMS program presentation are (from left to right) Paul Samuels, Peace River Basin Board member; Mac Carraway, Manasota Basin Board member; Senator Mike Bennett; Representative Nancy Detert; Patsy Symons, Governing Board secretary; Tom Dabney, Governing Board member; Frank Strelec, Manasota Basin Board member; and Ken Harrison, Peace River Basin Board member.
Members of the District’s Governing Board and the Manasota and Peace River basin boards recently celebrated with staff as State Sen. Michael Bennett and Rep. Nancy Detert presented a $1 million check to support the Facilitating Agricultural Resource Management Systems (FARMS) program.
The FARMS program is a cost-share reimbursement program that conserves water and protects water quality. FARMS, in conjunction with the District’s Regulatory Agricultural Teams, works with growers within the Southern Water Use Caution Area. The FARMS program is a public-private partnership that provides incentives for growers to install and maintain Best Management Practices (BMPs) that promote surface water and groundwater sustainability.
“Our goal is to have everyone benefit from intelligent decisions regarding irrigation management,” said David Brown, manager of the FARMS Section of the District’s newly formed Resource Conservation and Data Department. “The cooperation among the growers and commodity groups have made the success of the FARMS program possible.”
Also in attendance at the ceremony were representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Farm Bureau, Highlands County Citrus Growers Association, Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, and several FARMS project participants.
The FARMS program has two priority areas: the Upper Myakka River watershed and Shell Creek, Prairie Creek and Joshua Creek watersheds. The Upper Myakka River watershed includes portions of Manatee and Sarasota counties. The Shell Creek, Prairie Creek and Joshua Creek watersheds include portions of DeSoto and Charlotte counties.
The FARMS program is jointly funded by state appropriations, the District’s General Fund, the District’s Alafia River, Peace River and Manasota basin boards, and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Currently, the District Governing Board has approved 22 FARMS projects. There are 13 projects under construction and 20 additional active potential projects identified and in the planning stages. It is anticipated that 2.4 billion gallons of water have been offset through FARMS, equating to approximately 2.5 million gallons per day.