Many times, I find that people are not aware of all the agricultural clubs and organizations that would love to have new members.
The benefits of belonging to an organization of like-minded individuals can have great rewards. Agricultural organizations often offer an educational aspect, where new ideas are discussed among the producers. Some organizations offer scholarships for young people going to college. Also, the collective voice of hundreds is much louder than a single individual, allowing you to have a say in policy decisions that may affect you.
One of the most supportive agricultural organizations for all producers of different commodities is the Farm Bureau. This organization has local, state and national components. You do not have to purchase insurance to be a member of the Farm Bureau. For information about joining the Hernando-Citrus Farm Bureau, please call Hilda Cannon at (352) 796-2526. Again, all farmers and ranchers in the county should join this powerful voice in agriculture.
For livestock producers, there are two local organizations that will be very useful to your operation.
First is the Cattlemen's Association. This has local, state and national affiliation as well. The association is open to cattle producers as well as those thinking of going into the business of ranching. You do not have to be a cattle baron to be a member of this organization. For information, call the association's president, Sam Sikes at (352) 796-8077.
Goats R Us is a very beneficial organization for goat and sheep producers. For information call Juanita Fletcher at (352) 544-0800.
The Hernando County Beekeepers meets at 7:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month at the extension office. This is a dues-free club and is open to beekeepers, aspiring beekeepers and the general public.
Blueberry growers, both large and small, find that the Florida Blueberry Grower's Association provides a wealth of support and information. For more details, go to www.floridablueberrygrowers.com or write to: Florida Blueberry Growers' Association, P.O. Box 163, Island Grove, FL 32654.
If you have additional questions about any of these organizations, please feel free to call me at (352) 754-4433 or stop by the Hernando County Extension Service office.
Stacy Strickland is a regional specialized extension agent-agriculture/small farms with the University of Florida/IFAS Extension Service. He serves residents in Hernando, Citrus, Pasco and Sumter counties.