Florida Climate Smart Agriculture Initiative
Enabled by a Turner Foundation planning grant, Solutions from the Land (SfL), in collaboration with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), initiated in late 2018 a climate smart agriculture dialogue with a group of highly respected and well networked agricultural and forestry thought leaders and value chain partners in the state. As part of the recruitment process, candidates were advised that they would be joining a “self-directed” work group with the following mission:
- Review the impacts that extreme weather events and changing climatic conditions are having and are expected to have on the state’s agriculture and forestry sectors;
- Determine any need for and benefits of developing an agricultural and forestry adaptive management strategy for the state based on climate-smart agriculture principles; and
- If participants agree that such a strategy would be useful, develop an action plan for producing same.
At the meeting, Work Group members from around Florida representing the major food and fiber production sectors heard presentations from the USDA Southeast Climate Hub, FL State Climatologist, IFAS Center for Stress Resilient Agriculture, and a panel of ag and forestry experts from IFAS Extension and state agencies. The day’s discussion moved from analyzing climate and weather trends, to the transdisciplinary research approach IFAS is taking to address new challenges to agriculture, to multiple current challenges to ag and forestry producers.
At the conclusion of the introductory dialogue, the consensus view of the Work Group was that Florida agriculture was undergoing transformational change resulting from a growing population, land fragmentation, rising operating costs, labor shortages, trade imbalances and that changing climatic conditions represented a major threat multiplier to the future economic viability of the industry. In response to a closing question, “Who wants to remain engaged and help construct a climate smart agriculture/adaptive management strategic plan for Florida agriculture”? - all responded affirmatively.
This planning led to a second, April 17, 2019 meeting and the announcement of the Florida Climate Smart Agriculture Initiative on April 18th.