Lisa Lochridge is the director of public affairs for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association.
Along with pollen, school vacation, and Easter egg hunts, a traditional rite of spring at FFVA is the five-day Spring Regulatory Tour. Each year, FFVA and several major sponsors invite representatives from various state and federal regulatory agencies to visit a variety of agriculture operations.
This year’s tour hosted about two dozen guests from the EPA, Florida’s Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, and three of the state’s water management districts. FFVA Vice President of Industry Resources Dan Botts organized this tour, the 25th, which took place in late March.
Over the five days, the group travels from Fort Myers to Belle Glade, and back to Naples. It gives the participants, who are responsible for regulating many aspects of agriculture from water quality to pesticide use, a firsthand look at ag production. For some, it is the first time they have been on a farm.
It’s a rigorous schedule and a major commitment of time for the visitors, who come from Washington, DC, Atlanta, Tallahassee, and other parts of Florida. In addition, several FFVA members devote hours of their time participating as hosts at stops along the way.
Seeing Is Believing
One of FFVA’s strengths, members say, is its strong working relationships with lawmakers and regulatory agencies. The tour is a prime example of how FFVA continues to make a difference for its members.