Florida Growers Make Progress Through Political Awareness

FFVA Visits The Florida SenateA contingent of FFVA members hit the hallways of the Florida Capitol in late March to talk with lawmakers about issues of importance to agriculture during this year’s legislative session.
Eight of the association’s directors plus the 11 members of this year’s Emerging Leader Development Program talked with representatives and senators about key topics for agriculture, including a bill that would exempt certain agricultural items from sales tax, and funding for the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center.

The meeting gave members of FFVA’s leadership class the chance for an up-close look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of the legislative process. For some, it was their first visit — but certainly not their last — to Tallahassee.
For FFVA’s board members, the time is spent educating legislators about how various bills will affect their ability to produce fresh fruits and vegetables. Over the course of two days, the group met with 11 legislators and various state officials, including Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

The group kicked off its visit by meeting with Senate President Don Gaetz, who pointed out that the state’s budget picture is much improved over last year, with a billion dollars of additional tax revenue projected to flow into state coffers. However, he quickly put it in perspective: Funding requests for this year’s budget outnumber available dollars 38 to one.
Over lunch, Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) outlined highlights of SB 536/HB 601, which he sponsored along with Rep. Lake Ray (R-Jacksonville). The measure would require the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Department of Environmental Protection, and water management districts to study the expansion of the beneficial use of reclaimed water.

Industry Investment

A key effort for FFVA this session is passage of SB 312/HB 575, filed by Simpson and Rep. Ben Albritton (R-Wauchula) respectively. The measure would exempt from sales tax the purchase of irrigation equipment, farm equipment repairs, plant stakes, and replacement parts for equipment and trailers. The exemptions represent about $15 million a year in sales tax savings for growers.
FFVA joined other ag groups seeking funding to breathe new life into the
UF/IFAS research center in Immokalee that serves multiple counties and supports research for citrus and vegetables. At the time of the FFVA’s visit, the House version of the budget contained no funding at all for the center, and the Senate budget included only $10,000 in “placeholder” funding. UF/IFAS has asked for $4.9 million to build the center back up.

Growing The Next Generation

A few of the legislators imparted words of wisdom to members of the leadership class on how they can make a difference for Florida agriculture. “You have to go out and be seen and lead by example. Don’t be afraid,” advised nursery grower Rep. Halsey Beshears, a first-term representative from District 7 in the Panhandle. Several lawmakers stressed the importance of face-to-face meetings with elected officials instead of simply sending eMails to their offices. “Coming up here to talk to your elected leaders is the most effective way to make sure we’re hearing from you about what’s important to you,” said Rep. Jake Raburn of District 57.
Rep, Jim Boyd, whose Southwest Florida District 71 takes in prime tomato production areas near Bradenton, is a co-sponsor of the sales tax exemption bill. “Overall, I think things are going very well this session,” he said. He gave kudos to FFVA and its members on their efforts in Tallahassee. “You have a tremendous team up here with your association. You’re well-represented,” he said. “We appreciate what you bring to our state. We’re all able to eat and enjoy life because of what you do.”

Topics: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Farm Management Stories
storm clouds
CitrusSouth Florida Rainy Season Could Wind Up On Drier Side
May 20, 2015
National Weather Service anticipating El Niño to play a hand in possible below-normal conditions. Read More
Food SafetyProduce Safety Alliance Offers Course To Become A Certified Trainer
May 20, 2015
The Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) has announced dates for their first two Train-the-Trainer courses this June. The first of the Read More
Apples & PearsGrants Available For Farmworker Education
May 19, 2015
Grants are available for farmworkers and their families interested in attending adult educational programs through the Washington Apple Educational Foundation Read More
CitrusBad Weather Or Not, Preparation Always On Radar For Florida Farmers [Opinion]
May 19, 2015
You cannot prevent a natural disaster from taking everything you have, but you can lessen the blow if and when it happens. Read More
Wes Roan of Lipman Produce talks with participants of FFVA's Spring Regulatory Tour.
CitrusFlorida Farming Show & Tell Earns Regulators’ Respect
May 15, 2015
FFVA's annual Spring Regulatory Tour allows those who write regulations controlling water, crop protection chemicals, food safety, and more an opportunity to see production practices firsthand. Read More
CitrusReport: Florida Agriculture Property Values Remain Firm
May 12, 2015
Lay of the land confirms farm tracts are good investment. Read More
CitrusImportant Crop Insurance Deadline Nearing For Growers
May 12, 2015
Specialty crop, other producers need to certify conservation compliance by June 1. Read More
The Latest
Expansion groundbreaking for Southwest Florida Research and Education Center
CitrusSouthwest Florida Research And Education Center Embraci…
May 20, 2015
A 7,000-square-foot addition to the UF/IFAS facility will house labs and offices for potential new faculty members. Read More
storm clouds
CitrusSouth Florida Rainy Season Could Wind Up On Drier Side
May 20, 2015
National Weather Service anticipating El Niño to play a hand in possible below-normal conditions. Read More
CitrusBad Weather Or Not, Preparation Always On Radar For Flo…
May 19, 2015
You cannot prevent a natural disaster from taking everything you have, but you can lessen the blow if and when it happens. Read More
Wes Roan of Lipman Produce talks with participants of FFVA's Spring Regulatory Tour.
CitrusFlorida Farming Show & Tell Earns Regulators’…
May 15, 2015
FFVA's annual Spring Regulatory Tour allows those who write regulations controlling water, crop protection chemicals, food safety, and more an opportunity to see production practices firsthand. Read More
CitrusReport: Florida Agriculture Property Values Remain Firm
May 12, 2015
Lay of the land confirms farm tracts are good investment. Read More
CitrusImportant Crop Insurance Deadline Nearing For Growers
May 12, 2015
Specialty crop, other producers need to certify conservation compliance by June 1. Read More
CitrusAbout 58,000 Jobs In Agriculture And Related Fields Are…
May 12, 2015
National report says the jobs reflect a need for a skilled and trained workforce to support a growing population. Read More
Lightning
CitrusWet Season Off To Extremely Early Start In South Florid…
May 1, 2015
Some areas saw more than 200% above-average rainfall during April. Read More
Farm ManagementRemembering Ag’s Labor Needs [opinion]
April 30, 2015
Everybody is talking about the drought, and rightfuly so, but there’s another potential problem looming that could impact growers all over Read More
University of California-Davis
CitrusWorld’s Best Agriculture Colleges Ranking Revealed
April 29, 2015
Annual report card distinguishes which schools are excelling by subject area. Read More
CitrusTrimble Acquires HarvestMark To Assist With Food Tracea…
April 28, 2015
The goals of the acquisition ato provide more benefits to producers, add value to distribution centers, and provide a tool for tracking products in the food industry. Read More
Havana, Cuba view
CitrusRenewed Relations With Cuba A Concern For Florida Growe…
April 23, 2015
It might be said Sunshine State producers are worried if wider trade is opened as the potential for competing winter crops is real. Read More
Natalie Parkell and Kevin Osburn of Vertical Horizon Farms
CitrusSmall Family Farms Can Survive [Opinion]
April 17, 2015
It is reassuring amid the corporate climate the agriculture industry has experienced in more recent times that there is still room for the little guy, and — more importantly — a need. Read More
CitrusForecasters Predict Historically Weak Atlantic Hurrican…
April 9, 2015
Extended range outlook cites El Niño as culprit in what could be one of the least active seasons in recent memory. Read More
One World Challenge Wall
CitrusToday’s Youth Set To Sustain The World [Opinion]
April 9, 2015
A select group of University of Florida students are thinking of innovative ways to meet the challenges of supporting 9+ billion people on Earth by 2050. Read More
CitrusRainfall Relief Welcomed Across South Florida
April 3, 2015
Below-average precipitation for the region during March helps lower high water levels from what has been a rather wet Dry Season. Read More
Farm ManagementUSDA Awards $31 Million In Grants To Help SNAP Particip…
April 1, 2015
Funding supports programs that help participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program afford healthy foods. Read More
Farm ManagementHow To Save Money In Your Garden
April 1, 2015
Utah State University Cooperative Extension explains how you can save a bundle. Read More