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
NOAA Temperature Outlook For Winter 2015-2016
Farm Management
September 28, 2016
The Time For Climate Change Denial Is Over [Opinion]
Extreme cold, droughts, flooding, record-setting temperatures have all been a part of this year’s growing season. Read More
Marco Rubio tours a Central Florida citrus grove with industry dignitaries
Farm Management
September 27, 2016
Politicians May Be Taking Ag For Granted [Opinion]
Growers have become masters at ensuring a steady food supply, but warning, politicians: Ignore them at your peril. Read More
U.S. Capitol Building FEATURE
Citrus
September 26, 2016
Presidential Candidates Comment On Agricultural Issues
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump weigh in on a number of topics of concern to growers. Read More
Florida Sugar Cane field
Citrus
September 26, 2016
Florida Sugarcane Industry Strengthening From Within
Pot sweetens with promotions for three executive staffers of the state’s Growers Cooperative. Read More
cracked earth
Farm Management
September 24, 2016
Water Woes Continue In Northeast
Hydrologist says this year’s conditions are bad but are part of a typical water cycle. Read More
Photo courtesy of UF/IFAS
Berries
September 23, 2016
What U.S. Consumers Think About Florida Blueberries
For growers, the good news is that shoppers like what you are serving up. But more can be done to whet appetites. Read More
water droplet_generic
Citrus
September 22, 2016
Senate Committee Report Says WOTUS Reforms Needed
A report issued from the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee says federal agencies overreach their authority to regulate Read More
The Latest
Citrus
September 29, 2016
Winter Is Coming, And It Could Get Wicke…
Forecast sees heightened freeze threat for Florida citrus; frequent snow to blast Northeast. Read More
Farm Management
September 28, 2016
Grants Available For Sustainable Ag In T…
More than $1 million is marked for grants to study, demonstrate, and improve sustainable ag practices. Read More
Farm Management
September 28, 2016
The Time For Climate Change Denial Is Ov…
Extreme cold, droughts, flooding, record-setting temperatures have all been a part of this year’s growing season. Read More
Farm Management
September 27, 2016
Politicians May Be Taking Ag For Granted…
Growers have become masters at ensuring a steady food supply, but warning, politicians: Ignore them at your peril. Read More
Citrus
September 26, 2016
Presidential Candidates Comment On Agric…
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump weigh in on a number of topics of concern to growers. Read More
Citrus
September 26, 2016
Florida Sugarcane Industry Strengthening…
Pot sweetens with promotions for three executive staffers of the state’s Growers Cooperative. Read More
Farm Management
September 24, 2016
Water Woes Continue In Northeast
Hydrologist says this year’s conditions are bad but are part of a typical water cycle. Read More
Citrus
September 22, 2016
Senate Committee Report Says WOTUS Refor…
A report issued from the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee says federal agencies overreach their authority to regulate Read More
Farm Management
September 20, 2016
Study Says Produce Imports Good For Texa…
Imports from Mexico would add jobs in the Lone Star State. Read More
Farm Management
September 19, 2016
PMA, United Fresh Establish Joint Workin…
The joint effort will result in greater efficiency and a more meaningful impact within the fresh produce industry. Read More
Citrus
September 17, 2016
August Was The Hottest In 136 Years
The extended heat wave continues a streak of 11 consecutive months of record-setting temperatures. Read More
Farm Management
September 14, 2016
Tasteful Selections Takes Home The 2016 …
The award was presented at United Fresh’s Washington Conference where discussions focused on labor, trade agreements, and the upcoming election. Read More
Farm Management
September 13, 2016
USDA Expands New York Primary Disaster A…
More counties have been added to the original disaster declaration, and more growers are eligible for funding assistance. Read More
Farm Management
September 10, 2016
Drought Rages On In Northeast
Growers see bright side of dry conditions with possibility of sweeter fruit. Read More
Citrus
September 9, 2016
Are You Feeling Befuddled By Fickle Fore…
In any situation, proactivity pays. We can wait for the sky to fall, or we can sing in the rain. Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2016
Hermine Rains Down On Already-Soaked Sun…
Storm delivers extra dose of precipitation during one of the state’s wettest spells on record. Read More
Farm Management
September 6, 2016
Study Says Early Springs More Frequent I…
Scientists at Cornell University say ‘nightmare scenario’ for many growers going to be the norm if steps aren’t taken to stop global warming. Read More
Farm Management
September 4, 2016
Study Shows Slow Snowmelt, Water Availab…
University of Nevada, Reno scientist is part of team studying areas with significant snowfall. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]