In Western Florida, a group of large farming operations makes up the Everglades Agricultural Area, which covers 470,000 acres. Pepe Fanjul Jr. leads Florida Crystals Corporation and believes in the efforts to reduce the phosphorous levels in surface water across Florida. In 2012, these farmers followed best practices and exceeded the 25 percent phosphorous reduction goal with an astounding 41 percent reduction in 12 months. Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades have been restored to their natural beauty as invaluable habitat for thousands of species of birds. Combined efforts by all of the farming operations in the northern parts of the state have enabled the natural waterways to return to pristine condition.
More than 20 years ago, the Everglades had shown signs of deterioration that was difficult to explain. Scientists began to test the waters and discovered high levels of phosphorous. As more testing was performed across the state, the farming operations were asked to work together with the state of Florida to devise a long-term solution. Pepe Fanjul and Florida Crystals Corporation were early adopters to the best practices for farming with low-phosphorous fertilizers. Major food producers have many methods for growing top-quality crops that feed the nation and the world. Adjustments to the various methods have improved the surface water quality and sustained each operation.
Today, the Everglades draw thousands of birds from the Canadian and South American migratory paths for nesting in South Florida. Pepe Fanjul Jr. is proud to be part of the effort to protect the beauty that is unique to Florida. Farming operations play an important role in Florida’s economy. The byproducts of farming do not have to negatively affect the environment. Through this implementation of best practices everyone wins. The Everglades will continue to thrive as long as phosphorous levels are controlled in the areas where surface waters make their way southward.