Florida Farmers Show Regulators The Ropes

2013 FFVA Spring Regulatory Tour

Challenges for Florida specialty crop agriculture were a recurring theme on FFVA’s recent Spring Regulatory Tour, as 22 representatives from state and federal regulatory agencies spent five days traveling across South Florida. At stops from Fort Myers to Belle Glade, the group learned about water management, Florida’s specialty crop production, and crop-protection chemicals used to fight plant pests and diseases.

Arranged and led for more than two decades by Dan Botts, FFVA’s vice president of industry resources, the tour gives regulators from EPA, the Florida Department of Agriculture, and the state’s water management districts a chance to see a variety of crops and production practices firsthand.

It’s the first time some have ever visited a farm, and participants have the chance to talk extensively with growers about their pest management programs, water use, and other topics. By hearing from growers, these regulators are able to better understand how their decisions affect producers’ ability to farm. For growers, it’s a great opportunity to explain their production practices and the realities of producing food in an often harsh growing climate.

On A Roll

The tour kicks off with an overview of Florida water issues and a history of water management in South Florida. Participants also learn about the region’s unique soils in which sugar cane and vegetables are grown. Each stop involves an up-close look at crops. This year included sugar cane, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, citrus, celery, radishes, turfgrass, and cut flowers. Many FFVA members are gracious enough to set aside a morning or afternoon to accommodate the group.

Hosts for the tour this year were Duda Farm Fresh Foods, King Ranch, Barron Collier/Silver Strand, Lipman, Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, Florida Crystals Corp., Southwest Florida Water Management District, American Farms, and Syngenta Flowers. The tour also included the Old Collier Golf Course, where participants heard about the facility’s use of water and chemicals, and the Lee County Mosquito Control District, where participants got an overview of the county’s efforts to keep mosquitoes and the disease they carry in check. Plenty of time is allotted for discussion between the hosts and tour participants.

Demonstrations also are a big part of the itinerary. For example, after hearing how sugar cane and citrus are planted, grown, and harvested, the group was shown how sophisticated precision equipment is used to apply chemicals in groves and fields.

Sweet Spots

It’s no surprise that a good portion of time is spent on sugar cane, since more than 400,000 of the Everglades Agricultural Area’s (EAA) 500,000-plus acres produce sugar. Growers and several UF/IFAS researchers from the Everglades Research and Education Center explained the best management practices program and the measures growers in the EAA take to reduce the amount of fertilizers and pesticides they use. Those efforts have resulted in an average reduction of phosphorous to the tune of about 55%. Participants also learned about research under way looking at how to reduce the amount of phosphorous in sediment and organic matter in the farms’ irrigation ditches.

Other challenges were presented. The group heard about the severe effects of canker and HLB on Florida’s citrus industry from John Hoffman of Barron Collier/Silver Strand. At the height of its production, the company had about 700,000 trees, Hoffman said. Since then, the diseases have taken a heavy toll — reducing that number by about 15%. What’s more, since HLB was first discovered in the company’s groves in 2005, the cost of inputs has tripled, Hoffman said.

Dr. Phil Stansly of UF/IFAS discussed research he is conducting with a team of researchers from the Everglades Research and Education Center on a 10-acre plot. The team is studying the effectiveness of various nutrient applications on controlling the citrus psyllid, the insect that carries the HLB virus.

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
Citrus greening and psyllids
Insect & Disease Update
June 21, 2017
First Case of Deadly Citrus Disease Confirmed in Alabama
State agriculture officials taking action to assess and stop the spread of HLB.  Read More
Florida orange juice label close-up
Citrus
June 21, 2017
Help Consumers Read past Negative Headlines About Orange Juice
When it comes to this liquid sunshine, there are plenty of positives to point out. Read More
Citrus
June 19, 2017
$9M in Grants Allocated to Address Ag Water Resources Issues
Projects that focus on drought stress, flooding, water quality, and postharvest use are among awardees. Read More
Citrus under protective screen
Citrus
June 19, 2017
How to Get the Most out of Growing Citrus Under Protective Screen
2017 Citrus Achievement Award winner Ed Pines provides insider information on unique production method. Read More
'Gold nugget' seedless tangerine
Varieties & Rootstocks
June 19, 2017
Florida Growers Seeking to Strike Citrus Gold
Varieties showing HLB tolerance giving growers hope, sparking more questions. Read More
Illustration of CRISPR-Cas9
Citrus
June 15, 2017
Make Way for Life-Saving Science on Your Farm [opinion]
While nature always finds a way to adapt, science continues to find other ways to cope. Read More
Jellyfish genes causing citrus phloem to glow
school lunch tray full of Florida-grown blueberries and watermelon
Citrus
June 15, 2017
Florida Farm to School Initiative Makes New Strides
Connecting with local growers, communication, and flexibility are keys to a successful nutrition program. Read More
Business Planning
June 14, 2017
How Ready Pac Went from Near Bankruptcy to Innovation in 3 Years
The company's new CEO, Tony Sarsam, spoke at United Fresh's MKT Expo about how investing in staff, increasing communication, and reaching for the same goal can transform a business. Read More
FL Gov. Rick Scott signs a bill
Citrus
June 9, 2017
State Budget Cuts Threaten to Take Big Bite from UF/IFAS Programs
Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed plan includes trimming more than $6 million from research and education-based initiatives. Read More
Citrus
June 9, 2017
Agriculture Water Standards Compliance Dates Extended
FDA says the agency will extend the compliance dates after feedback from stakeholders. Read More
Flooded vegetable field in South Florida
Citrus
June 7, 2017
Super Soaker Deleting Drought Status in the Sunshine State
From famine to feast, Florida’s record-setting dry spell has given way to a wide-open wet season. Read More
Center pivot irrigation system at Florida research farm
Citrus
June 1, 2017
Big Bucks up for Grabs to Water-Wise Florida Farmers
St. Johns River Water Management District cost-share funding would support implementation of conservation-minded practices and technologies. Read More
Citrus
May 30, 2017
Devastating Citrus Disease Found in Orange County, California
HLB detected in plant material from residential neighborhood. Quarantine expanded. Read More
Hurricane season photo collage
Citrus
May 29, 2017
NOAA Betting on Another Busy Atlantic Hurricane Season
Forecasters predict above-normal storm activity, depending on El Niño's naughtiness. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
June 22, 2017
Technology Boom Boosting Farm Life to a …
Whether it is human genetics or genetics applied to plants, knowledge is growing at a dizzying pace. Read More
Citrus
June 21, 2017
Study Suggests Modern Beekeeping Gives V…
Parasite has adapted, thrived with colonies in modern hives. Read More
Citrus
June 21, 2017
Storm Runoff May Recharge Aquifers and Y…
A new study hints that tapping into storm water during dry years does more than increase water table levels. Read More
Citrus
June 21, 2017
Help Consumers Read past Negative Headli…
When it comes to this liquid sunshine, there are plenty of positives to point out. Read More
Citrus
June 19, 2017
$9M in Grants Allocated to Address Ag Wa…
Projects that focus on drought stress, flooding, water quality, and postharvest use are among awardees. Read More
Citrus
June 19, 2017
How to Get the Most out of Growing Citru…
2017 Citrus Achievement Award winner Ed Pines provides insider information on unique production method. Read More
Citrus
June 15, 2017
Make Way for Life-Saving Science on Your…
While nature always finds a way to adapt, science continues to find other ways to cope. Read More
Citrus
June 15, 2017
Florida Farm to School Initiative Makes …
Connecting with local growers, communication, and flexibility are keys to a successful nutrition program. Read More
Business Planning
June 14, 2017
How Ready Pac Went from Near Bankruptcy …
The company's new CEO, Tony Sarsam, spoke at United Fresh's MKT Expo about how investing in staff, increasing communication, and reaching for the same goal can transform a business. Read More
Citrus
June 9, 2017
State Budget Cuts Threaten to Take Big B…
Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed plan includes trimming more than $6 million from research and education-based initiatives. Read More
Citrus
June 9, 2017
Agriculture Water Standards Compliance D…
FDA says the agency will extend the compliance dates after feedback from stakeholders. Read More
Citrus
June 7, 2017
Super Soaker Deleting Drought Status in …
From famine to feast, Florida’s record-setting dry spell has given way to a wide-open wet season. Read More
Citrus
June 1, 2017
Big Bucks up for Grabs to Water-Wise Flo…
St. Johns River Water Management District cost-share funding would support implementation of conservation-minded practices and technologies. Read More
Citrus
May 30, 2017
Devastating Citrus Disease Found in Oran…
HLB detected in plant material from residential neighborhood. Quarantine expanded. Read More
Citrus
May 29, 2017
NOAA Betting on Another Busy Atlantic Hu…
Forecasters predict above-normal storm activity, depending on El Niño's naughtiness. Read More
Citrus
May 25, 2017
Are We Overstating the World’s Ove…
If growers can’t achieve a fair return on investment and stay in business, it won’t matter what the population is in 2050. We all will be trouble. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2017
Falcons Scare off Other Birds at Duncan …
It collaborates with a firm that uses trained falcons to intimidate and scare off nuisance birds such as the horned larks and pigeons that frequent the area. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2017
Search is on For Next Crop of Florida Ag…
Nomination period now open for longtime industry honor. Read More