Thursday in Hastings at the St Johns County Equestrian Center on Smith Road, Historic City News joined some of St Johns and Putnam County’s best known names in farming for a special lunch as part of the 41st annual National Agriculture Week. The event was hosted by Farm Credit of Florida.
Local farmers and ranchers from across Florida will come together to celebrate this week, and besides those who attended today’s picnic lunch, another 40 or so meals were delivered to farmers in the field at three local family farms.
“This lunch is small way to say thank you for the hard work it takes to provide food, fiber and fuel for all Americans,” Steve Register, a loan officer with the local Farm Credit office, told Historic City News managing editor, Michael Gold. “We appreciate the Agriculture Council of America for their support of the National Ag Week program; but, this week isn’t about us, it’s about our gratitude to the many men and women who make agriculture possible.”
In St Johns County, agriculture is second only to tourism in driving our local economy. In the state, Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam Putnam, reports that agriculture represents $130 billion dollars in revenue, supporting nearly 2-million jobs. Agriculture is America’s largest export.
Also assisting in the lunch were Mary Farr, a Switzerland resident and member of the Board of the St Johns County Horse Council, who operate the county-owned facility, and a new member and volunteer Leslie Taylor, who moved to Elkton from Destin.
In addition to Register, Farm Credit loan officers Laurie Deems, Martha Westbury, and loan assistant Lindsey Wimberly, prepared and served the hamburgers and hot dogs, pickles, potato chips and chocolate chip cookies, then delivered the lunches to the nearby farms.
“Today, each American farmer feeds more than 144 people — which is one reason why it’s important, particularly during this special week, to show our appreciation,” Laurie Deems said. “We lend to farmers in rural northeast Florida from offices in Alachua, Arcadia, Homestead, Live Oak, Ocala, Okeechobee, Palatka, West Palm Beach, Trenton, Vero Beach, and Wauchula.
Farm Credit of Florida is a non-profit cooperative, member-owned, headquartered in Royal Palm Beach. They are not a bank, they don’t take deposits; they make loans to many of Florida’s leading agribusiness owners. They have a loan portfolio of $829 million dollars.