Environmental stewardship awards presented to Manatee County farming operations

MANATEE -- SMR Farms and Strickland Ranch are the first two Manatee County agricultural operations to receive the County Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship Award, or CARES.

The CARES awards were presented this week at the Manatee County Farm Bureau Dinner.

Jim and Renee Strickland own a 4,000-acre cattle operation in East Manatee that was recognized for its environmentally friendly practices, including water and fertilizer management.

Among their common sense solutions to keeping cattle out of ponds and waterways was to cut open giant tractor tires for use as water troughs.

Gary Bradshaw, president of SMR Farms at Lakewood Ranch, said the award recognized best management practices at his company with its

sod, nursery, citrus and cattle operations.

"We now have a manual for best management practices of each of our commodities," Bradshaw said.

Dan West, a director of the Manatee County Farm Bureau, confirmed that the awards are the first presented to Manatee County farming operations.

Also recognized at the Farm Bureau meetings was Jim Pauley, principal of Southeast High School, for his support of the county's agricultural programs.

Pauley will be receiving an Honorary American FFA Degree at the upcoming National FFA Convention in Louisville, Ky.