Andrea Albertin, UF/IFAS Water Regional Extension Agent, and Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Jackson County

Craig Bishop, Jackson County, is a row crop farmer who grows, peanuts, corn, cotton, and soybeans. Steve “Beaver” Yoder, Calhoun County, is a cattle rancher who grows stocker cattle on forages. The two have created a partnership that not only boosts the productivity of both operations but also demonstrates their strong commitment to environmental stewardship. As Craig puts it, “Taking care of the land, that is the core, the center of it. Take care of it, and it will take care of you.”

Beaver contracts with Craig to grow cool-season forages that also serve as a cover crop following cash-crop production. The forages protect the cropland from erosion from wind and rain in the off-season and the cattle graze on high quality forages that benefit from the irrigation and fertility of the soil following crop production. The integrated system builds organic matter in the soil that helps with nutrient cycling and water and drought management. It is a win-win partnership because both operations benefit from the integration of livestock and crop production.  Watch this video to hear Craig and Beaver share how they have made this beneficial partnership work.

This video was produced by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

To promote partnerships between row crop farmers and livestock producers for this type of integrated system, researchers at the UF/IFAS NFREC created The Southeast Grazing Exchange website which is a new tool to connect livestock and row crop producers and landowners throughout the Southeastern States to make cooperation accessible. Dr. Jose Dubeux explains how this new platform works in the article A New Tool to Connect Livestock Producers and Landowners throughout the Southeastern US, recently published in Panhandle Ag e-News.

For information about technical and financial assistance offered to producers to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) on their operations, three agencies that offer assistance in our area are:

  • The USDA-NRCS – Contact your local NRCS Service Center. We have nine NRCS Service Centers throughout the Florida Panhandle (Area 1).
  • The FDACS Office of Agriculture and Water Policy – Contact your local FDACS field staff.
  • The Northwest Florida Water Management District. They offer cost share for producers in the Jackson Blue Springs Basin. Contact the NWFWMD Agriculture Team for more information.

The video highlighted in this article is one of three that we will share in the coming weeks. They were all produced by FDACS and are part of a project to promote BMP implementation in the Chipola River Basin. The project was funded through a US EPA Gulf of Mexico Division Farmer-to-Farmer grant, which was obtained by the Southeastern Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP).

Andrea Albertin