Editor’s note: Below is a transcript of Alan Jones, of Jones Potato Farm in Parrish, FL, acceptance speech upon receiving American Vegetable GrowerSM magazine’s Grower Achievement Award at the United Fresh Produce Association’s Washington Conference.
When I started this journey, 30 some years ago, I thought that the ag business would be easy. I mean, I grew up on a family farm — how hard could it be?
Well, I soon found out!
Between water regulatory agencies, pesticide reporting, HR issues, multiyear contracting, financing a large ag operation, crop insurance, food safety, carbon footprint, risk assessment… It wasn’t long before I was asking myself what in the heck I had gotten myself into?
Well, the answer was commercial farming, Big Ag… This business requires us to wear many different hats. Some that fit just right, and others that need quite a bit of adjusting.
The fact of the matter is that our business is ever-changing. And how can we as industry leaders cross these hurdles in a positive, proactive manner?
I answer this by looking in the mirror and asking a few questions:
“What can I do?”
“How can I improve my operation to do more with less?”
“How can I conserve natural resources and lessen environmental impacts?”
“How can I promote economic development within my own community?”
This was my initial approach some years ago and what I came to find is that if you came to the table with good ideas, you’ll realize that regulatory agencies can be much more friend than foe. That they can and will become advocates to achieve common goals. These agencies are yearning for positive feedback to streamline cost share projects. All in an effort to conserve natural resources and further our industry in a sustainable and positive manner.
Something tells me that if you are in this room today that this rhetoric strikes a chord with you. It is our fiduciary responsibility to feed a nation by not only utilizing best management practices set forth by regulatory agencies, but to develop new and innovative initiatives.
So I’m going to ask each and everyone one of you to do the same thing I do every day:
Look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What can I do to make a positive impact on our industry?”
Just imagine the possibilities.
So in closing, I want to thank the Nature Conservancy for nominating me, and Meister Media Worldwide and American Vegetable Grower magazine for giving us this award. I’d like to thank all the members of United Fresh, all the elected officials who stand up for agriculture, my industry partners, and most importantly, my family and wife for all your support.
So I’d like to end this with a toast. Please raise your glass of orange juice or water.
Here’s to the American farmer, who is proud to bear the cross of feeding a nation. May he be part of the solution and not the problem. Cheers!