Central Florida Natural Resource Steward is Named State’s Farmer of the Year

Contacts: G.B. Crawford, Public Relations Director • 352.374.1517 • gb.crawford@ffbf.org
Joshua Craft • 352.374.1541 • joshua.craft@ffbf.org

Gainesville, Fla. –Dennis Carlton has known since he was child that agriculture was his calling.  Now that calling has returned to him a coveted honor.
His continuing production success and excellent natural resource management persuaded a statewide panel of judges to award him the title of Florida’s 2014 Farmer of the Year.
Carlton began his career in 1974 with 19 cows and 55 acres. He and his family now produce beef cattle, citrus and strawberries on acreage in Hillsborough and Hardee counties. Care of water and land resources has been part of his career for four decades. His state-of-the-art irrigation system for strawberries, for example, allows him to use lake water for freeze protection and avoid pumping from underground resources.
A seventh generation Floridian, Carlton has also restored a 1,200-acre parcel that was formerly dotted by phosphate pits into one of the largest wetland recovery projects completed in the Tampa Bay area. The land now provides improved pasture and offers extensive wildlife habitat.
Throughout his career Carlton has been involved in his community as a leader. He has served as a member of the advisory board for the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission, a member of the Greenways Task Force and a member of the Hillsborough County Soil and Water District board in addition to his volunteer duty on behalf of the Hillsborough County Farm Bureau and area business groups. He is a past president of the Hillsborough County Farm Bureau.
Like all farmers, Carlton has adopted research-based techniques to stay in business. “Citrus growers saw freezes in the ‘80s, rebuilding in the ‘90s and cost returns below production expenses in this century,” Carlton said. “Then we faced canker, followed by greening. Each decade has its challenges, but hard work and new technology keep us going.”
His official honor is known as the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Ag Expo Florida Farmer of the Year. He will be recognized for his accomplishments at the Sunbelt Ag Exposition in Moultrie, Ga. in October. There, Carlton will compete against nine other state winners for the regional title of Southeastern Farmer of the Year.
Editor: Dennis Carlton may be contacted via email at denniscarlton@verizon.net or by telephone at 813.620.8312.
Florida Farm Bureau is the state’s largest general agricultural organization, represents more than 147,000 member-families. We serve to enhance farm enterprise and improve rural communities.

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