In-The-Field Learning Invaluable for GenNext Growers

FFVA Emerging Leader Development Program Class 6 Farm Tour
Class 6 members of FFVA’s Emerging Leader Development Program take note on tour while visiting with Paul Orsenigo of Growers Management Inc. in Belle Glade.

Eleven young agriculture professionals are getting a well-rounded education this year on Florida specialty crop agriculture through FFVA’s Emerging Leader Development Program (ELDP). The program identifies young leaders and equips them with information and tools to become strong advocates for agriculture.

Class 6 toured South Florida farming and packing operations in mid-January. The tour took in stops in Belle Glade, South Bay, LaBelle, Clewiston, Loxahatchee, and Boynton Beach. Over 2½ days, the group packed in multiple stops to see production, harvesting, and packing of sugarcane, leafy greens, citrus, tomatoes, and more.

Paul Orsenigo, FFVA Chairman and Co-Owner of Grower’s Management Inc. in Belle Glade, kicked off the tour with an overview of leafy greens production. Orsenigo discussed with frankness the challenges of the markets and oversupply in some vegetable crops. Stellar weather last fall that produced bumper crops combined with low demand, created a glut that hurt growers.

Orsenigo is one of several FFVA board members who were instrumental in launching the ELDP.  “I wish I’d had the opportunity to participate in something like this when I was your age,” he told the group. “There’s so much to learn.”

He urged the class members to put what they learn to use to benefit agriculture and become involved in FFVA committees. “You are the future,” he said.

During the tour, class members have the unique chance to have open and honest discussions with CEOs and managers and tap into their knowledge.

“The ELDP Florida production tour was one of the most beneficial opportunities of my agricultural career,” said Travis Kuhn of Spring Hill Farms. “Interacting face to face with the farmers and advocates for our industry is a formative experience without equal.”

Class members also toured RCMA’s Early Childhood Center in Belle Glade, which has early Head Start, Head Start, and Migrant Head Start programs. The center director talked about the success of RCMA’s programs along with the unique challenges they face educating children of migrant workers. A large donation of food was dropped off for the families of the Center’s students.

Sugarcane also was a focus for Day 1. Les Baucum of U.S. Sugar Corp. explained the production, harvesting, and milling of sugarcane. Jim Shine of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative discussed water issues associated with the Everglades Agriculture Area and the growers’ use of BMPs to drastically reduce phosphorous in water leaving their farms.

Shine explained the growers’ opposition to environmentalists blaming agriculture for last year’s algae blooms in east and west coast estuaries. And the group heard why taking 60,000 acres of farmland out of production for water storage is not a viable solution to the problem.

After touring the fields and packinghouse at TKM Bengard in Belle Glade with host Nick Basore, the class met with Jonathan Allen at R.C. Hatton to see green bean and corn packing lines. Both Basore and Allen are alumni of the leadership program.

Duda hosts Rob Atchley and Joby Sherrod took the group around the company’s Felda citrus operation, and much of the conversation focused on greening. Atchley also touched on the importance of a steady workforce. “We have to have a functional guestworker program to make this work for us,” he said.

Jamie Williams of Lipman echoed sentiment about the markets for vegetables. “The tomato season has been one of the worst I’ve encountered in a decade,” he said. “Last year’s market was really high. Folks planted the same acreage planted this year … everything was the same, but we got 20% more yields,” he said, adding that Mexico had experienced the same warm, dry fall. “There’s not room in the marketplace for 20% more product.”

The tour wrapped up with stops at J&J Family of Farms in Loxahatchee (eggplant and peppers), and Bedner Farms and Farm Fresh Market in Boynton Beach (multiple crops).

The tour was a valuable learning experience for the group. Tony Flottemesch of Lipman said, “The South Florida trip was incredible, as there was so much to see and learn from all of the different farms we went to. This was the first time I saw how sugarcane was burned and harvested. We were fortunate enough to be able to see how orange juice is processed — the equipment is massive. I would like to thank all of the growers who took the time to show us their operations. I don’t know if they realize just how valuable the information that they gave us is.”

Topics: , , ,

Leave a Reply

GenNext Growers Stories
overflowing beaker in science lab
GenNext Growers
September 4, 2017
New Collaboration Hopes to Boost Youth Interest in Science
Bayer, 4-H partner to increase interest in science among young people nationwide and cultivate the next generation of innovators shaping agriculture, food, and health. Read More
haskap berries
GenNext Growers
August 22, 2017
Top Alternative Crops GenNext Growers Should Consider
Now is a good time for you to think about what new selections might pay off. Read More
GenNext Growers
August 17, 2017
Young Growers See Evolving Orchard Production on Cornell Tour
A group of 30 got a chance to see operations boasting vertical integration and higher production per acre up close in the Champlain region of New York State and Vermont. Read More
GenNext Growers
August 8, 2017
Winegrape Society Awards $100,000 in Scholarships
American Society for Enology and Viticulture bestows awards at its 68th national conference. Read More
Carl and Dustin Grooms of Fancy Farms
Business Planning
July 11, 2017
Young Florida Farmers Ready to Take the Reins
As growers age, the next generation is stepping up and stepping into leadership roles on the farm. Read More
inspecting a citrus leaf for HLB symptoms
GenNext Growers
July 8, 2017
5 Crop Scouting Mistakes You Might Be Making
Inspecting fields for signs of pest pressure is critical to your farm’s success. But, are you doing it right? Read More
GenNext Growers
July 5, 2017
National Young Farmer Coalition Members Show Support for Farm Bill
Young growers speak up about issues that impact the next generation of growers. Read More
cash money in hand
GenNext Growers
July 5, 2017
Ag Trade Association Awards Give $117,000 in College Scholarships
Awards to 59 students this year and previous years now exceeds $1.3 million in total. Read More
GenNext Growers
June 29, 2017
Cornell Graduate Student Earns Grape Disease Research
Doctoral candidate recognized by American Society of Enology and Viticulture for work studying sour rot pathogens. Read More
girl on smartphone
GenNext Growers
June 24, 2017
Find the Food Safety Apps That Are Right for You
There are a lot of choices available for growers. We’ve sifted through them to help figure out which ones will best suit you. Read More
Online shopping graphic for GenNext Growers webcast
GenNext Growers
May 22, 2017
How to Make Dollars and Sense of Today’s Produce Marketplace Mayhem
Despite current challenges impacting the future of the North American fruit and vegetable industry, there are opportunities to be had. Read More
Gary Reeder of West Coast Tomato/McClure Family Farms in Florida
GenNext Growers
May 18, 2017
Five Delegates to Represent U.S. at Youth Agriculture Summit
More than 1,000 applied as delegates to help tackle global food security challenge at international event. Read More
GenNext Growers
April 22, 2017
Next Generation of Leaders Gets Yearlong Almond Immersion
Almond Leadership Program enters its ninth year with the 2017 class. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 19, 2017
Young Apple Growers Meet with Lawmakers
Apple leaders from across the country discuss ag issues such as labor, trade, and research. Read More
Vijay Kumar giving TED Talk on ag innovation
GenNext Growers
April 17, 2017
TED Talks Take on Agriculture Innovation
The popular short-form presentations address the future of food production. Read More
The Latest
GenNext Growers
October 1, 2017
USDA Announces $12.6M to Train Next Gene…
Future ag scientists are looking to tackle exotic invasive pests, water quality monitoring. Read More
GenNext Growers
September 21, 2017
Advice for Taking Over the Family Farm
If you are considering joining and running your family business, here are some tips to ensure success. Read More
Farm Management
September 10, 2017
$3 Million Available to Train Future Agr…
There are a lot more jobs being created than there are graduates with bachelor’s or higher degrees who can fill them. Read More
GenNext Growers
September 4, 2017
New Collaboration Hopes to Boost Youth I…
Bayer, 4-H partner to increase interest in science among young people nationwide and cultivate the next generation of innovators shaping agriculture, food, and health. Read More
GenNext Growers
August 22, 2017
Top Alternative Crops GenNext Growers Sh…
Now is a good time for you to think about what new selections might pay off. Read More
GenNext Growers
August 17, 2017
Young Growers See Evolving Orchard Produ…
A group of 30 got a chance to see operations boasting vertical integration and higher production per acre up close in the Champlain region of New York State and Vermont. Read More
GenNext Growers
August 8, 2017
Winegrape Society Awards $100,000 in Sch…
American Society for Enology and Viticulture bestows awards at its 68th national conference. Read More
Business Planning
July 11, 2017
Young Florida Farmers Ready to Take the …
As growers age, the next generation is stepping up and stepping into leadership roles on the farm. Read More
GenNext Growers
July 8, 2017
5 Crop Scouting Mistakes You Might Be Ma…
Inspecting fields for signs of pest pressure is critical to your farm’s success. But, are you doing it right? Read More
GenNext Growers
July 5, 2017
National Young Farmer Coalition Members …
Young growers speak up about issues that impact the next generation of growers. Read More
GenNext Growers
July 5, 2017
Ag Trade Association Awards Give $117,00…
Awards to 59 students this year and previous years now exceeds $1.3 million in total. Read More
GenNext Growers
June 29, 2017
Cornell Graduate Student Earns Grape Dis…
Doctoral candidate recognized by American Society of Enology and Viticulture for work studying sour rot pathogens. Read More
GenNext Growers
June 24, 2017
Find the Food Safety Apps That Are Right…
There are a lot of choices available for growers. We’ve sifted through them to help figure out which ones will best suit you. Read More
GenNext Growers
May 22, 2017
How to Make Dollars and Sense of Today&#…
Despite current challenges impacting the future of the North American fruit and vegetable industry, there are opportunities to be had. Read More
GenNext Growers
May 18, 2017
Five Delegates to Represent U.S. at Yout…
More than 1,000 applied as delegates to help tackle global food security challenge at international event. Read More
GenNext Growers
April 22, 2017
Next Generation of Leaders Gets Yearlong…
Almond Leadership Program enters its ninth year with the 2017 class. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 19, 2017
Young Apple Growers Meet with Lawmakers
Apple leaders from across the country discuss ag issues such as labor, trade, and research. Read More
GenNext Growers
April 17, 2017
TED Talks Take on Agriculture Innovation
The popular short-form presentations address the future of food production. Read More