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Ag Community Rallies behind IFAS

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Valerie Alker
/
WGCU

The agricultural arm of the University of Florida is banking on support from the state legislature to enhance its research facility in Immokalee. 

Earlier this year, UF’s Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) announced it was closing its Immokalee facility.  It’s one of thirteen centers in Florida doing agriculture research.  IFAS Immokalee’s focus is citrus and tomatoes.    

UF’s Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Jack Payne, was going to move the scientists to other facilities but said he was persuaded to go in another direction.

“The local community of stakeholders, who are very important to us, I value highly, I know many of them very well, came to me and said look let’s see if we can work together and get additional funds in the legislature to build this station up,” he said.

Payne said the number of state lawmakers with ties to agriculture is significant and with additional state funding he can not only keep IFAS Immokalee open but also fill positions that have been left vacant.

He said the IFAS research stations are vital to Florida’s economy.

“It’s a $140 billion industry in Florida, both ag and natural resources - looking at the whole value chain - and we are the research and innovation arm of that industry.”

Payne said he also has a good relationship with Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.