How Ocala Horse Properties Helped Horse Farms Forever
Faced with eminent FDOT routes that would destroy valuable Northwest Ocala horse farms, Ocala Horse Properties helped create Horse Farms Forever to rally the community and actively fight against this harmful expansion. Rob Desino successfully helped lobby the Governor’s office to abandon all routes, while Matt Varney simultaneously influenced proactive solutions aimed at protecting Marion County’s status as the Horse Capital of the World.
“Horse Farms Forever would not have been able to make such an impact so quickly without the expertise, leadership, and tireless efforts of Ocala Horse Properties.”
-Bernie Little, President of Horse Farms Forever.
How it Began
After hearing about possible FDOT routes that would destroy the NW Horse Farms, we quickly jumped into action rallying the community and communicating with Tallahassee. Weeks later and in front of a packed house at the County Commission Chambers, Matt delivered a powerful speech that laid out the frustrations of the community, the fault of the FDOT study and challenged the county commission to act immediately and decisively.
The result of that meeting was unanimous, the commissioners were on board and had listened to us and the community and they began drafting a resolution against the Coastal Connector.
Ocala Horse Properties Helps Form “Horse Farms Forever”
Knowing the resolution was only the start (we knew it was ultimately a state issue, not a county one), OHP quickly came together with Bernie Little along with many other farm owners to create Horse Farms Forever.
Through their tireless efforts, Rob Desino would be instrumental in lobbying the Governor’s office to abandon all routes for the Coastal Connector, while Matt Varney’s previous development experience helped him lobby for proactive solutions aimed at the future of farmland in Marion County.
The team continues our work as a board member (Rob Desino is the Vice President of Horse Farms Forever), founders, active advocates, and spokespeople. We are proud of the actions we have taken to help solidify the future of Marion County’s horse farms.
“It’s about protecting our land – our shared livelihood.”
– Rob Desino, Vice President of Horse Farms Forever
Horse Farms Forever Mission
Raise awareness to ensure that the character and culture of Ocala/ Marion County is protected for future generations. Our Purpose is to be watchful of government actions pertaining to the character and culture that the horse industry and the Farmland Preservation Area make unique to Ocala/Marion County. Members of HFF include some of the top farm owners and equine related businesses in our region. Together we share the same vision to carry forward the tradition of preserving land, and thus the health of the horse industry.
“We truly believe that horses, horse farms and the horse industry create the character and culture that makes Ocala/Marion County unique and noteworthy. For there to be horses and an equine industry, there must be farmland available for horse farms.
The Farmland Preservation Area in northwest Marion County serves that purpose, and thus it is precious and must be protected and preserved to sustain this sense of place.”