PALM CITY, Fla. - Third, fourth and fifth generation farmers and ranchers shared their knowledge of Martin County’s rich agricultural history and current challenges with a sold-out crowd at the annual Farm-City luncheon on November 16 at the Rockin H Ranch in Palm City.
Since 2016, the nonprofit organization One Martin, in cooperation with the Martin County Farm Bureau, has brought together urban and rural residents of the county to celebrate the important relationship between farmers, consumers, business and civic leaders, and everyone in between who contributes to the community’s safe, abundant food supply.
This year’s program included a panel of younger, local farmers and ranchers whose families have deep roots in Martin County’s agricultural history. It is not well known that agriculture is one of Martin County’s key industries and economic engines.
Panel members included: LeeAnne Adams Simmons with Adams Ranch; Wyatt Carlton with Spur Land & Cattle; Ransom Reed Hartman with Hartman Real Estate; John Legg with Legg Cattle Company; Adam Yingling with Crescent A Cattle Company. Facilitated by panel moderator Tom Hurley CEO, Becker Holding Corporation and Becker Tree Farm and Nursery, the panelists shared their family stories and discussed some of the biggest challenges facing agriculture today.
All agreed that high costs for every aspect of agriculture, from feed for cattle to the plastic that binds the hay, are threats to an operation that is “a price taker, not a price maker.” As Lee Anne Adams explained, when prices at the supermarket go up, the consumer assumes that farmers are making more money. “That is simply not how it works,” Adams said. “There is a long production chain, and the original farmer or rancher gets very little at the end of it.”
The cost of land, pressures to sell from developers to the south of Martin County, high estate taxes when a farm is passed on to the next generation, and the difficulty of sustaining the operations also have negative impacts on preserving the family farm.
Finding the next generation of farmers and ranchers is also an issue, according to the panelists. Wyatt Carlton said, “If you don’t grow up doing it, you’ll never be involved in ag. You won’t be able to make money, and you just won’t do it.”
Public perception and lack of awareness were also cited as a big concern. “People generally have no idea of what ag requires,” John Legg said. Even those who realize that food comes from farms, not the grocery store, don’t appreciate what it takes to raise crops or livestock.
Rick Hartman, President of One Martin, quotes Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture as warning that the United States has become a net food importer. This dependence on foreign markets puts our national food security in danger, and the trend is not positive.
The panel had ideas on what can and should be done to preserve Florida and Martin County agriculture. “Buy local!” Adam Yingling advised. “Support Florida’s Rural and Family Lands Program,” Lee Ann Adams said, “so we can put land into conservation and keep agricultural operations going.” Reed Hartman added, “Know your source of information so you get the real facts about agriculture instead of myths, half-truths, and downright misunderstanding of how ag works.”
Also during the luncheon, Martin County Farm Bureau President Brittany Bearden recognized three Martin County farmers who received the coveted 2023 This Farm CARES (County Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship) award: Wes Carlton, Nicole Kirchhoff, and Tom McCrudden. They are the first farmers in Martin County in more than ten years to be nominated and receive this award.
Sponsors for this year’s Farm-City Luncheon include Ashley Capital, Becker, Three Lakes, FPL, Midbrook 1st Realty, Gunster Law Firm, Hartman Real Estate, O-Rourke Engineering, RV Johnson & Auto-Owners Insurance, Star Farms Corporation, Three Natives of Hobe Sound, US Sugar, Agri-Gators Inc., Camo Farms, Captec Engineering, Family Lands Remembered, Farm Credit of Florida, Haley Ward, Lucido & Associates, Market on Main, Ralicki & Company, Shearwater Marine Florida, Team Parks, Theresa & Richard Anderson, Water Point Realty Group, and Wedgeworth Inc..
Farm-City Week is celebrated nationally each year during the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Educational events during this time celebrate and recognize the beneficial partnerships between rural and urban communities that make our food supply safe and plentiful. Across the state of Florida, members of the agricultural community join with local businesses and residents to learn more about the importance and impact of agriculture on the economy, the culture, and the future of the state and nation.
About One Martin
One Martin is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization dedicated to creating a more informed citizenry and providing opportunities for civil discussions on topics of importance to Martin County. Click here to sign up for One Martin’s newsletter or follow them on Facebook at