Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam announced on November 1, 2017 the recipients of the Commissioner’s Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award, which recognizes the environmentally innovative farming techniques of Florida’s farmers and ranchers. This year’s recipients are: Brad and Meghan Austin and Dale and Cindy Eade of Cindale Farms in Marianna; Greg Davis of Speedling Incorporated in Ruskin; and Brittany Lee of Florida Blue Farms Inc. in Waldo.
“These award recipients use innovative technology and methods to protect Florida’s environment and natural resources while contributing to Florida’s $120 billion agriculture industry,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam.
Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture has presented this award annually since 1994 to Florida’s growers and ranchers committed to preserving Florida’s resources while providing agriculture products.
Cindale Dairy Farm
Incorporated in 1994, Cindale Farms is a dairy operation in Marianna, Florida. Brad and Meghan Austin are second-generation dairy farmers who co-own, care for and operate Cindale Farms. Meghan’s parents, Dale and Cindy Eade, founded Cindale Farms and now manage the family’s ice cream business, Southern Craft Creamery, which uses milk produced by their own cows. In 2014, Brad and Meghan became responsible for management of the 467-acre farm. It is home to 300 Jersey and Jersey-crossed cows that are milked twice daily.
Environmental stewardship has been a priority to the family since Cindale Farm’s inception. They were one of the first farms to enroll in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Dairy BMPs and have taken advantage of many environmental stewardship programs to implement nutrient management programs. Such programs include the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). Through EQIP, Cindale Farms used cost-share dollars to implement a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan, rainwater management and storage plan, erosion control and prescribed grazing management. WHIP cost-share funds were used to establish a field border that provides wildlife food and cover benefits. The farm has also partnered with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to develop and implement a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan, forming a baseline of fertilizer use for the operation and proving that these standards are accessible to farms of all sizes.
Both the Eades and Austins are very passionate about telling the story of agriculture and the positive benefits local farms have on the economy and community. They are very involved with Ag leadership and education, having hosted numerous farm tours at Cindale Farms for consumers, decision makers, extension workers, 4-H clubs, FFA students, teachers and school children. For more than 10 years, they have participated in Ag in the Classroom field trips for students in the county, participated in Young Farmers and Ranchers, and opened their farm up for school tours.
The family’s leadership is shown off the farm just as much as it is shown on the farm. Both Cindy and Meghan have served, or currently serve, on the board of directors of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce as its agriculture representative. They have worked closely with extension on the annual Farm-City Week Celebration and the scholarship program for college students from farm families who are pursuing degrees in agriculture.
Cindy also serves on the board of directors and as vice chair for Northwest Florida Farm Credit and serves on the FDACS Soil and Water Conservation Council. Dale is the vice president of Southeast Milk Inc. (SMI), serves on SMI’s Executive and Audit Committees, and serves as chairman of the Pricing Committee, setting price for raw milk in the region. Dale also serves on the FDACS Dairy Industry Technical Council. Both Meghan and Brad served on the Florida Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Leadership Committee, with Brad being the former president. He also served on the Florida Farm Bureau Board of Directors and is a graduate of the Natural Resources Leadership Institute. He is active on the Jackson County Cattlemen’s board, having previously served as president. Meghan also serves on the board of directors for Florida Dairy Farmers and as committee member and chair for SMI Check-off and Quality Committees, respectively.
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