Agriculture Press Release

October 24, 2003

Ag Environmental Leadership Awards presented for 2003

DAYTONA BEACH -- Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson presented awards to three agricultural operations in recognition of their leadership in promoting progressive environmental practices.

The 2003 Commissioner’s Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Awards were presented during a breakfast ceremony at the Florida Farm Bureau Federation’s 62nd annual meeting in Daytona Beach on Friday, October 24. The awards program is now in its 10th year and has recognized a total of 32 winners.

“The Ag-Environmental Leadership Award program spotlights the environmentally innovative farming practices of our state’s growers and ranchers,” Bronson said. “Focusing public attention on their efforts helps illuminate Florida agriculture’s dedication to preserving the environment and conserving natural resources while helping ensure a continuing supply of food and fiber.”

This year’s winners are:
Aquatica Tropicals, Inc., of Plant City,
Sun City Tree Farm of Ruskin, and
Williamson Cattle Company of Okeechobee.

“Agriculturalists are the original environmentalists,” Bronson said. “As a lifelong rancher, I have always respected the bond between man and the environment. We depend on the land, and are charged with being its true stewards as we strive to meet the growing demands of our nation and the world.”

Nominations for the awards were received earlier this year by a screening committee composed of scientific and technical experts with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which selected the finalists. The three winners were then selected from the group of finalists by a selection committee made up of representatives from The Nature Conservancy, the state’s Water Management Districts, the Florida Farm Bureau, the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, the Florida Dairy Association, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Florida Citrus Mutual, and the Florida Forestry Association.


Aquatica Tropicals, Inc., has facilities in Plant City, Lakeland and Ruskin.

Tropical fish produced at Aquatica Tropicals, Inc.

Marty Tanner, owner of Aquatical Tropicals, Inc., has partnered with the University of Florida and other research facilities to pioneer new techniques.

The 150-acre Sun City Tree Farm is located in Ruskin, Florida.

Brothers J.C. Tort and Eric Tort, owners and operators of Sun City Tree Farm.

Sun City Tree Farm has adapted a root bag system that saves water by allowing tree roots to draw water from the ground, and reduces the costs of fertilizer, weed control chemicals, fuel, irrigation and labor. Currently, 80 percent of the approximately 100,000 trees are grown above ground in cloth bags as part of the root bag system.

The Williamson Cattle Company is headquartered in Okeechobee, Florida, where it produces citrus and cattle. The company also operates a catfish farm and cattle ranch in Alabama.

Frank “Sonny” Williamson Jr., left, and son, Frank “Wes” Williamson III.

Most of the hammocks, pine forests, and swamps on the property have been left in their natural state at Williamson Cattle Company.

For more information:
Walt Land
(850) 487-8000


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