LAKEWOOD RANCH -- For the fourth consecutive year, SMR Farms, a subsidiary of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, has been named Grower of the Year by Bradenton's Tropicana Products, Inc.
The award is based on fruit quality, load quality, fruit variety mix and agribusiness management.
"It serves as an indicator that we try to do things the right way in everything we do," said Mac Carraway, president of SMR Farms. "It may not sell another foot of sod or another tree, but it might influence somebody's decision in doing business with us."
SMR Farms was one of four orange growers to receive the annual award. Other recipients included Florida growers Bentley Brothers Inc. of Winter Haven, Pines Ranch Inc. of Lorida, and Arcadia-based Sunny South Packing Co. Inc. SMR Farms is one of several hundred contract growers for Tropicana and has been working with the company for more than 20 years.
"In the citrus industry, they've been at the top for decades," said Carraway, who recently received an in
dividual award for his role in agriculture by being named the Agriculture Institute of Florida's AgVocate of the Year. The award is given to an individual who has been involved and has been an effective communicator on behalf of Florida agriculture over the past year.
"We like the idea of being associated with a company like Tropicana," Carraway added. "To achieve that level of recognition is something we will value a lot."
SMR Farms, based in Lakewood Ranch, owns 1,230 acres of citrus groves and is involved in a multi-year partnership on a citrus fertilization project aimed at comparing traditional fertilizers with low-carbon-footprint products as part of Tropicana's global sustainability efforts.
"I look at it in terms of the standards Tropicana sets, which are very high standards," Carraway said. "I associate those standards with the quality operations that Tropicana and PepsiCo have presented themselves to be."
Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams.