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Florida Climate Smart Ag Initiative Announced
USAgNet - 04/22/2019

Florida agricultural leaders are calling for deeper exploration of farmers, ranchers, and forest land owners as suppliers of environmental protection as well as of food and fiber. The Florida Climate-Smart Agriculture Work Group has declared its ambitions to craft a plan for how the state's 26 million acres of agricultural lands can adapt to changing conditions and produce more clean water and air and other societal benefits.

The Work Group brings together agricultural, forestry, business, academic, government, and conservation leaders to focus on how to keep Florida agriculture profitable while providing nutritious food, clean energy, and ecosystem services such as water filtration and carbon sequestration.

"As a result of the Work Group's decision to pursue the development of a climate-smart agriculture action plan for the state, the stage has been set for ag thought leaders to advance practices and promote policies that can build a healthier, more resilient food system and a healthier, more sustainable planet," said Co-Chairs Lynetta Usher Griner and Jim Strickland.

Solutions from the Land (SfL), a non-profit that promotes farmer-inspired solutions to global challenges, in partnership with the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), is sponsoring the initiative.

The project aims to assist Florida agriculture and forestry leaders in examining the vulnerabilities and opportunities created by changing climatic conditions in ways that are relevant to their daily lives and those of their customers. It will also seek to mobilize thought leaders to advocate for needed changes in land use practices, research, education, and policy.

"Solutions from the Land is working across the country to bring America's farms, ranches, and forests to the forefront of resolving food system, energy, environmental, and climate challenges and achieving global sustainable development goals," said SfL President Ernie Shea. "We are honored to be in Florida helping visionary agricultural leaders and their partners demonstrate the full range of goods and services they can deliver from the land."

Funded by a Turner Foundation planning grant, the project was initiated earlier this year when SfL and UF/IFAS held a climate-smart agriculture discussion with some of Florida's most respected agricultural leaders. The discussion included a review of the impacts that extreme weather events and changing climatic conditions are having and are expected to have on the state's agriculture and forestry sectors.

Work Group members came to the consensus view that Florida agriculture was undergoing transformational change and that extreme weather events and changing conditions were a threat multiplier that required additional discussion. The group discussed a need for and benefits of developing an agricultural and forestry adaptive management strategy for the state based on climate-smart agriculture principles and agreed to develop an action plan for implementing the strategy.

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