Title: 1994 Ag-Environmental: Rafter T Cattle Company
Type: Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award
An advocate of agricultural education, Jimmy Wohl routinely opens his Highlands County ranch to the public for programs ranging from the Farm City Week Tour to Florida Ag in the Classroom.
Jimmy Wohl: Over 99 percent of the public, the only thing they know about food production is what they learn in Publix. And I think by introducing them to the production end of it, to go out to our ranch, see cattle growing, see watermelons growing, or eggplants growing. It creates a new awareness in these people that yes, that's how I get my food. It's not just manufactured at the supermarket.
In more than 20 years of managing the Rafter T Ranch, Mr. Wohl has shown that agriculture can work in harmony with nature. Natural habitats such as wetlands and cabbage palm hammocks have been integrated with the native and improved pastures of his successful cattle operation.
The ranch practices rotational grazing which reduces the risk of livestock infestation while at the same time improving the quality of the pastures. Other conservation practices result in enhanced surface water discharge, reduced pesticide use, and lower overall water consumption.
The Rafter T's timber operation has also adopted an environmentally friendly approach. By selectively harvesting trees, the company has bolstered the growth of the remaining vegetation. This in turn has generated new habitats for a variety of wildlife, including several endangered species.
Mr. Wohl sees environmental stewardship and education as keys to finding the balance between nature and an economically viable business.
Jimmy Wohl: We're in an era now where we have become very conscious of the land, it's uses, and keeping the land in a healthy productive state; and I think with this new awareness naturally we are looking at every practice we employ and how it's going affect the health the long term health of the land and also what the economic return is going to be. So everything we do, we try to consider what are the long-term ramifications.