A Full Docket To Discuss And Decide

FFVA’s board of directors and committees kicked off the year at their January meetings with a look at the most pressing issues facing the grower community. Federal crop disaster programs and the transition to new leadership at the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services topped the board agenda at the meeting in Orlando.

Mike Joyner, assistant commissioner of agriculture, told the board that energy and water will be a major focus for Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. As Putnam assembled his leadership team, Joyner said, he looked at “common themes and threads” for the most effective division structure.

Eye On Immigration

Meeting with the Government Relations Committee, state Sen. Gary Siplin, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, pledged to work with Florida’s fruit and vegetable producers on their priority issues. Siplin stressed that, along with Gov. Rick Scott, he wants to see jobs created. Among other topics, members of the committee discussed concerns over the immigration bills that have been introduced in the legislature. Several said they were concerned that not only do such measures not create jobs, immigration enforcement efforts would be costly at a time when our financially strained state can least afford it.
“On immigration, agriculture has always stepped up to the plate to propose solutions,” FFVA President Mike Stuart told the Democratic senator from Orlando. “We have tried as hard as we could at the federal level to find a bipartisan solution. It would be tragic to have industry penalized at the state level … to see efforts get so aggressive that we end up without a workforce.”
 
One of the several immigration bills that have been proposed is an Arizona-style bill introduced by Sen. Mike Bennett, a Bradenton Republican. It would authorize law enforcement officers with “reasonable suspicion” to try to determine the legal status of anyone pulled over in a routine traffic stop. Another has been introduced by Rep. Bill Snyder, a Republican from Stuart who is running for Martin County sheriff instead of seeking another term. At the behest of Senate President Mike Haridopolos, a series of three fact-based hearings were held in January and February at which experts testified about what such a law would mean for the Sunshine State. Meanwhile, the Arizona bill has been blocked by a federal court and is under appeal.

Lingering Doubts

Interestingly, in the weeks after filing his bill, Bennett expressed doubt that it will pass. In fact, he told a reporter he wasn’t sure he would even vote for the measure himself. Critics have legitimate concerns about whether an enforcement law would lead to racial profiling.
 
Snyder, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is determined to move his bill forward, saying the debate is important for Florida. His draft bill also would require companies to use E-Verify in hiring new employees.
 
The need for a legal, foreign-born, low-skilled workforce isn’t unique to agriculture, nor is it unique to Florida. The three pillars of Florida’s economy (tourism/hospitality, agriculture, and construction) all are affected by this issue, and it needs to be solved at the federal level.
 
Agriculture has worked hard to help develop and propose bipartisan, reasonable solutions, including the AgJOBS bill. Despite long-term bipartisan support for AgJOBS, critical mass to get it passed has come up short. And, despite a mention of immigration reform in President Obama’s State of the Union Address, it doesn’t look like Congress will be dealing with the issue anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean we stop working on it.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
CitrusWestern Growers Joins Forces With Technology Venture Capital Firm
April 27, 2015
Growers association and Silicon Valley Global Partners will collaborate on two California innovation centers, one in the Silicon Valley, one in the nation's salad bowl, Salinas. Read More
Food SafetyFood Company Agrees To Stop Producing Contaminated Sprouts
April 27, 2015
On April 22, 2015, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois entered a consent decree of Read More
CitrusCalifornia Drought Forum Slated For May 5
April 27, 2015
Public comments by growers, ranchers, and other stakeholders are encouraged by state officials. Read More
FertilizerImprove Your Tomato Fertility Plan
April 27, 2015
Packable tomato yields of 20-plus pounds per plant are readily attainable if you’re willing to focus on production details. However, Read More
drought sign water crisis
Apples & PearsDiversification: A Response To Drought [Opinion]
April 27, 2015
With Governor Jerry Brown’s announcement of mandatory use reductions, the general public in California is getting a wake-up call on Read More
BerriesWebinar To Offer Management And Monitoring Tips For Spotted Wing Drosophila
April 27, 2015
Trapping tips, cultural controls, and how to test fruit will be among the topics covered by experts from Ohio State Read More
Apple Grower of the YearTerhune Orchards Celebrates 40th Anniversary
April 24, 2015
It’s a Mount-u-mental celebration for the 2005 Apple Grower Of The Year and family. Read More
OrganicWebcast: Weed Control Options For Organic Tomato Production
April 24, 2015
As part of a series of free educational webcasts on The Plant Management Network, a presentation on weed control considerations Read More
ProductionpH Reducer Certified For Use In Organic Production
April 24, 2015
Growth Products Ltd. announced that pH Reducer has been certified as a Registered Material for Use in Organic Agriculture by Read More
FruitsEast, Midwest Braces For Cold Snap
April 24, 2015
Growers keep an eye on the thermometer as temperatures dip into the mid to low 20s. Read More
The Latest
CitrusWestern Growers Joins Forces With Technology Venture Ca…
April 27, 2015
Growers association and Silicon Valley Global Partners will collaborate on two California innovation centers, one in the Silicon Valley, one in the nation's salad bowl, Salinas. Read More
Food SafetyFood Company Agrees To Stop Producing Contaminated Spro…
April 27, 2015
On April 22, 2015, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois entered a consent decree of Read More
CitrusCalifornia Drought Forum Slated For May 5
April 27, 2015
Public comments by growers, ranchers, and other stakeholders are encouraged by state officials. Read More
FertilizerImprove Your Tomato Fertility Plan
April 27, 2015
Packable tomato yields of 20-plus pounds per plant are readily attainable if you’re willing to focus on production details. However, Read More
drought sign water crisis
Apples & PearsDiversification: A Response To Drought [Opinion]
April 27, 2015
With Governor Jerry Brown’s announcement of mandatory use reductions, the general public in California is getting a wake-up call on Read More
BerriesWebinar To Offer Management And Monitoring Tips For Spo…
April 27, 2015
Trapping tips, cultural controls, and how to test fruit will be among the topics covered by experts from Ohio State Read More
Apple Grower of the YearTerhune Orchards Celebrates 40th Anniversary
April 24, 2015
It’s a Mount-u-mental celebration for the 2005 Apple Grower Of The Year and family. Read More
OrganicWebcast: Weed Control Options For Organic Tomato Produ…
April 24, 2015
As part of a series of free educational webcasts on The Plant Management Network, a presentation on weed control considerations Read More
ProductionpH Reducer Certified For Use In Organic Production
April 24, 2015
Growth Products Ltd. announced that pH Reducer has been certified as a Registered Material for Use in Organic Agriculture by Read More
FruitsEast, Midwest Braces For Cold Snap
April 24, 2015
Growers keep an eye on the thermometer as temperatures dip into the mid to low 20s. Read More
anthracnose of tomato; diseases of tomato; crop protection
Disease ControlAnthracnose Can Cause Red Alert For Tomato Growers
April 24, 2015
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this disease. Read More
UF Glow mandarin
Varieties & RootstocksFlorida Citrus Growers Vie For Chance To Plant Experime…
April 23, 2015
Meetings set to support launch of rapid release program’s third suite of new varieties. Read More
Apples & PearsAPHIS Proposal To Allow Apples From China Becomes Rule
April 23, 2015
Growers in China expected to follow set standards of production to prevent possible importing of new pests. 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
7-6-27 mandarin hybrid
Varieties & Rootstocks4 Fresh Florida Citrus Selections To Watch For
April 22, 2015
Meet the newest group of UF/IFAS FAST TRACK release candidates. Read More
Tomato necrotic streak virus symptoms
TomatoesNew Virus Detected In South Florida Tomatoes
April 22, 2015
Infectious species said to be a distant relative of tobacco streak virus, which is the cause of bean red node. Read More
Apples & PearsFruit Processor To Expand Operations In Virginia
April 22, 2015
Andros Foods North America to invest $73 million in area and hiring 160. Read More
FruitsOverturned Truck Dumps Millions Of Bees On Highway
April 22, 2015
The truck with 448 hives was headed to a farm in Washington. Read More