FFVA On The Line: A Road Trip Worth Taking

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.

On Tour
The 2011 Spring Regulatory Tour stops included:
– Old Collier Golf Course, Fort Myers (golf course pest management)
– Syngenta Flowers and Keepsake Plants, Lee County (ornamentals, azaleas, and chrysanthemums)
– Six L’s Farm, Estero
(sandland vegetables)
– Barron Collier/Silver Strand, northern Collier County (citrus)
– Sugar Cane Growers Coop.,
Belle Glade (sugar cane)
– King Ranch, western Palm Beach County (sod)
– Duda Farm Fresh Foods,
Belle Glade (muck vegetables)
– American Farms, Naples
(ornamental nursery production)
– Lee County Mosquito Control District (mosquito control in South Florida).

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

Before they hit the road, participants get a comprehensive overview of water management and regulation in South Florida by Terrie Bates of the South Florida Water Management District. Each host explains production practices, integrated pest management programs, water use and monitoring, market conditions, and other topics. The format encourages conversation and question-and-answer exchanges so participants can gain insight into how the regulations they write affect producers.
Year after year, the tour gets high marks from attendees. Dr. Donna Judkins, a biologist with EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, said of this year’s tour, “I think this kind of learning is extremely valuable for EPA employees tasked with assessing the risk to the environment and human health from pesticide use. It promotes understanding of pesticide use. A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Educational Experience

The participants also come away with a better understanding of the myriad challenges Florida producers face, whether it is weather, competition from low-cost imports, plant pests and diseases, food safety, and labor issues.
For example, during the stop at Barron Collier/Silver Strand, farm manager John Hoffman provided an overview of the citrus industry and the company’s citrus operations. Participants saw demonstrations of mechanical harvesting, precision pesticide application, and tree topping. UF/IFAS researcher Dr. Bob Rouse spoke to the group about citrus canker, citrus greening, and citrus black spot. He also outlined ongoing research efforts where trees are being treated with combinations of nutrients and a systemic acquired resistance program [learn about this by clicking here].
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.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

All Vegetables Stories >All Fruits Stories >All Nuts Stories >All Citrus Stories >

The Latest

Insect & Disease UpdateAdditional Aid Coming For Florida Citrus Growers Gouged…
September 17, 2014
Through USDA’s Tree Assistance Program, eligible growers can cash in on cost share for diseased tree removal and replanting. Read More
FruitsFlorida Fruit & Vegetable Association Seeks Fresh A…
September 17, 2014
New partnership bolsters Fresh From Florida program. Read More
CitrusFDA Announces Cooperative Agreement To Implement Nation…
September 17, 2014
Agreement will provide information to help plan and carry out the produce safety rule in partnership with state regulatory agencies. Read More
NutsAchieving A Super-Premium Walnut Crop
September 17, 2014
What are the best ways to get high quality walnuts that are light in color and fully developed? Read these 8 harvest best practices to find out. Read More
NutsAlmond Growers Highly Dependent On Groundwater
September 17, 2014
Fully 87% of large growers use groundwater to irrigate their trees. Read More
NutsWarm Winter And Drought Casting Doubt On Pistachio Harv…
September 17, 2014
Though Rabobank report says that one billion pounds still attainable by 2019. Read More
Crop ProtectionBagrada Bug On The Move In California
September 16, 2014
Find out more on management tactics and what counties are impacted by this invasive pest. Read More
Cucurbits14 Stand-Out Melon Varieties [Slideshow]
September 15, 2014
Browse the slideshow below for information on these exceptional melon varieties from the nation’s leading seed breeders and distributors. Read More
Grower Achievement AwardView Highlights From The 2014 United Fresh Washington P…
September 15, 2014
Browse this slideshow to view photos from the 2014 United Fresh Washington Public Policy Conference, including pictures of this year’s Grower Read More
Apples & PearsCanneries Hope To Encourage Growers To Grow Pears For P…
September 15, 2014
Higher wholesale prices offered as means to boost canning pear acres. Read More
FruitsDeadline Nearing For Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistanc…
September 15, 2014
Fruit growers who suffered losses due to frost or freeze in 2012 could be eligible for assistance through USDA’S Farm Service Agency. Read More
BerriesBotrytis Gray Mold Pressure Increasing With Humid Weath…
September 15, 2014
Michigan State University researcher offers tips to reduce the spread of spores. Read More
Fruits5 Mistakes You May Be Making With Your Orchard’s …
September 15, 2014
These deadly sins may be hurting your customers’ experience — and costing you money. Read More
FruitsSuccess And The Not-Top-100 Grower [Opinion]
September 15, 2014
Innovation isn't only happening at the top. Some of the most interesting ideas in the fruit industry are being executed by small growers. Read More
Apples & PearsAmerican and Western Fruit Grower’s 2014 Top Appl…
September 13, 2014
The nations’s largest growers reflect how technology, innovations, and promotion help make their businesses run more efficiently. Read More
NutsAmerican and Western Fruit Grower’s 2014 Top Nut …
September 13, 2014
Almonds, pistachios, and walnuts grown in California make up the crops featured in this portion of the Top 100 Report. Read More
FruitsAmerican and Western Fruit Grower’s 2014 Top 100 …
September 13, 2014
The nations’s largest growers reflect how technology, innovations, and promotion help make their businesses run more efficiently. Read More
Stone FruitAmerican and Western Fruit Grower’s 2014 Top Ston…
September 13, 2014
This year’s Top 100 Report features the 25 largest stone fruit growers in the country. Read More