Many farmers and ranchers will agree that the heart of their operation is their family. According to fourth generation citrus grower and cattle rancher Steve Johnson, this could not be more true. “My involvement in agriculture started as soon as I could walk. Growing up working with my dad and grand-dad meant putting in long hours, but it also meant spending a lot of time each with my family,” Johnson says.
Johnson owns and operates Johnson Harvesting, Inc., and Treeair Cattle Co., in both Hardee and Manatee Counties. He grows several varieties of citrus spanning more than 600 acres. Treeair Cattle Co., started out as a hobby for Johnson and his father, but together, they have grown their herd to more than 800 beef cattle. Johnson’s children and his wife, Andrea, play an integral role in the family business, helping manage the office and spending time with Dad at work.
“I love that I have the opportunity to take my children to work with me on any given day. I also feel confident that I can pass down to my children—who will be the fifth generation of Johnsons in agriculture—a set of thriving businesses that complement each other. And that I know my children are excited about,” Johnson says.
In 2016, Johnson was awarded a This Farm CARES designation by Florida Farm Bureau Federation for his long- term commitment to protecting natural resources. As soon as you set foot on his property, it becomes evident that taking care of the land and resources is a major priority for Johnson. By implementing Best Management Practices (BMPs), he is able to improve water quality and water conservation throughout each of his properties. BMPs are practical, cost- effective actions that agricultural producers take to conserve water and reduce the amount of pesticides, fertilizers, animal waste and other impurities that impact our water resources.
“Environmental stewardship is very important to what I do every single day,” Johnson says. “My land will not return anything to me if I do not take care of it. I use BMPs to improve water quality and reduce water use, just as my dad and his father did before me.”
Through the successful implementation of BMPs, Florida’s farmers and ranchers show a sincere commitment to the protection and preservation of natural resources for generations to come. Since 2001, nearly 800 farm families have been awarded a This Farm CARES designation. CARES is an acronym which stands for County Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship and is a Florida Farm Bureau Federation program that publicly recognizes farmers and ranchers who voluntarily implement BMPs on their farms.
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