Florida Ag commissioner praises land deal between developer and Utah company

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 2:27 PM

The Associated Press

WATERSOUND, Fla. -- Florida's agriculture commissioner on Thursday praised a land deal between a major Panhandle real estate developer and a Utah company.

Adam Putnam said the $565 million agreement between the St. Joe Company and AgReserves Inc. of Salt Lake City is a reminder of the economic and ecological value of agriculture in Florida.

AgReserves will acquire 380,000 acres from the former timber company turned land devleoper in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties. AgReserves plans to continue to use the land for timber and agriculture.

St. Joe CEO Park Brady said in a prepared statement that the sale of the timberland will allow his company to focus on its core business of Panhandle real estate development. The land being sold by St. Joe does not include any of its existing residential, commercial or resort properties, Brady said.

Paul Genho, chairman of the board for AgReserves, said the deal made sense for his company.

"AgReserves has demonstrated its commitment to wise land stewardship and prudent resource management during more than 60 years of ranching and agricultural operations in east central Florida," he said in a prepared statement. "We will apply that same commitment and expertise to managing the property we are acquiring in Florida's panhandle."

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