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
Tracy Leskey, Director of USDA's Appalachian Fruit Research Laboratory in Kearneysville, WV, takes a moment to snap a photo of the Young Grower Alliance members touring a peach architecture research block. (Photo credit: Christina Herrick)
GenNext Growers
August 18, 2016
USDA Invests $17.8M To Educate Next Generation Of Growers
Money will bolster efforts of partner organizations to increase next generation of growers. Read More
Cosmic Crisp was developed by crossing Enterprise and Honeycrisp in 1997. The tree is upright and spreading with moderately low vigor, so it won’t grow rampantly or oversized. It is precocious, meaning it will start producing fruit at a younger age, with spur development beginning on two-year-old wood. (Photo credit: WSU CAHNRS Communications)
GenNext Growers
August 18, 2016
Meet Mike Basedow Of The Young Growers Alliance
Coordinator talks about the future of young growers and the evolution of fruit production. Read More
2016 Donald Trump in Iowa (Photo Credit: Trump for President Campaign)
Citrus
August 18, 2016
Trump Campaign Announces Agricultural Advisory Committee
Just three of the 64 are directly involved with fruits and vegetables, all three are Californians. Read More
McManis Vineyards - FarmWorkers
GenNext Growers
August 17, 2016
8 Ways To Facilitate Learning In The Field
Don’t just train your workers, engage them, retain them, and improve job performance. Read More
Satellite image of a hurricane
Citrus
August 12, 2016
Second Half Of Atlantic Hurricane Season Could Get Hairy
After a relatively sluggish start to the campaign, revised forecast foresees increased tropical activity ahead. Read More
Therapeutic cannabis closeup in the greenhouse
Citrus
August 10, 2016
Therapeutic Cannabis Culture Taking Off In Florida
Another licensed nursery gets the go-ahead; makes deliveries to patients in need. Read More
Produce case at Hopcott FEATURE
Food Safety
August 8, 2016
Longtime Member Of UC-Davis Postharvest Technology Center Takes The Helm
Dr. Trevor Suslow, who has been a member at the center for 20 years, is taking over for Elizabeth Mitcham. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
August 24, 2016
Meet Florida’s 2016 Woman Of The Year In…
Dedication to fostering the state’s farming future defines the latest winner of longtime honor. Read More
Farm Management
August 24, 2016
Swaying Views On GMO Foods No Easy Task
Featured speaker for the upcoming FFVA Annual Convention says tides are slowly turning in how people digest the concept of genetic modification. Read More
Citrus
August 19, 2016
Rough Winter In Store For Much Of The U.…
The Old Farmer’s Almanac and its competitor The Farmers’ Almanac predict the 2016-2017 winter will be cold for much of the country. Read More
Citrus
August 18, 2016
Trump Campaign Announces Agricultural Ad…
Just three of the 64 are directly involved with fruits and vegetables, all three are Californians. Read More
Citrus
August 12, 2016
Second Half Of Atlantic Hurricane Season…
After a relatively sluggish start to the campaign, revised forecast foresees increased tropical activity ahead. Read More
Citrus
August 10, 2016
Therapeutic Cannabis Culture Taking Off …
Another licensed nursery gets the go-ahead; makes deliveries to patients in need. Read More
Farm Management
August 6, 2016
The Path To Food Safety
Three growers of various sizes offer tips on how they comply with food safety protocols while giving their customers what they want. Read More
Citrus
August 5, 2016
Move Over, El Niño, La Niña To Affect Fa…
U.S. forecast calls for cool, wet conditions in the Northwest; drought to continue in West; warmth in the East; and stormy in the Southeast. Read More
Citrus
August 4, 2016
Tips To Prevent Heat-Related Illness
Heat exposure can cause several illnesses, early treatment and recognition can help prevent life-threatening heat stroke. Read More
Citrus
August 3, 2016
Topsy-Turvy Weather Trend Continues In S…
Seasonal scripts flipped as region reports the 10th driest July on record. Read More
Citrus
August 1, 2016
NASA: First 6 Months Of Year Warmest To …
Scientists at NASA say two key climate change indicators — global surface temperatures and Arctic sea ice extent — have Read More
Farm Management
July 29, 2016
Obama Signs GMO Labeling Law
The law is praised by major grower groups because it avoids a patchwork of state laws and provides clarity going forward. Read More
Citrus
July 28, 2016
Florida’s Medicinal Cannabis Venture Off…
The state’s first dispensary of product comes online in Tallahassee, others waiting for the green light. Read More
Citrus
July 27, 2016
Ag Tech Is Hot On Horticulture; Get A Ha…
As evidenced by the recent AgTech Summit hosted by Forbes magazine in Salinas, CA, action in precision farming and the Read More
Farm Management
July 26, 2016
Mexico Has Potential For U.S. Sweet Pota…
Assessment concluded that opportunities abound if Mexican buyers better understand grades, sizes, and quality of U.S. product. Read More
Farm Management
July 25, 2016
Seven Reasons You Need To Attend The Uni…
Education sessions and Capitol Hill visits will focus on key issues, such as labor, facing the fresh produce industry. Read More
Citrus
July 20, 2016
My First Trip To Cuba Proves Fruitful
The five-day journey was enlightening, providing participants with a better perspective of the state of agriculture in this country 90 miles off Florida’s coast. Read More
Citrus
July 19, 2016
Funds Allocated To Address Impact Of Cli…
NIFA announces $8.4 for study and development of new approaches to mitigate effects of climate change. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]