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

CitrusFarming Is Quite The Scary Prospect For Some [Opinion]
September 30, 2014
Florida Grower managing editor Paul Rusnak says economic realities might frighten off future leaders from noble professions. Read More
CitrusFlorida Announces Its 2014 Woman Of The Year In Agriculture
September 29, 2014
Longtime award recognizes women who have made outstanding contributions to the state’s farming sector. Read More
CitrusFlorida Produce Industry Embracing Progress, Confronting Challenges
September 29, 2014
Production pressures and politics hot topics at FFVA’s 71st Annual Convention. Read More
CitrusFlorida Farmers Finding Ways To Cultivate An Environment Of Excellence [Opinion]
September 26, 2014
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam salutes producers putting their best management practices forward. Read More
CitrusGrowers Should Partner Wisely To Stay Afloat Amid WOTUS Woes [Opinion]
September 26, 2014
According to Florida Grower editor Frank Giles, the Clean Water Act is muddying waters for farmers. Read More
Varieties & RootstocksSimplifying Progressive Citrus Propagation Process A Priority
September 25, 2014
Stakeholders work rapidly to smooth out any kinks in the FAST TRACK. Read More
CitrusPolitics Creating More Work In Farm Management Field
September 24, 2014
Paul Meador of Everglades Harvesting Co. says an immigration reform resolution can't come soon enough. Read More

The Latest

CitrusFarming Is Quite The Scary Prospect For Some [Opinion]
September 30, 2014
Florida Grower managing editor Paul Rusnak says economic realities might frighten off future leaders from noble professions. Read More
CitrusFlorida Announces Its 2014 Woman Of The Year In Agricul…
September 29, 2014
Longtime award recognizes women who have made outstanding contributions to the state’s farming sector. Read More
CitrusFlorida Produce Industry Embracing Progress, Confrontin…
September 29, 2014
Production pressures and politics hot topics at FFVA’s 71st Annual Convention. Read More
CitrusFlorida Farmers Finding Ways To Cultivate An Environmen…
September 26, 2014
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam salutes producers putting their best management practices forward. Read More
CitrusGrowers Should Partner Wisely To Stay Afloat Amid WOTUS…
September 26, 2014
According to Florida Grower editor Frank Giles, the Clean Water Act is muddying waters for farmers. Read More
CitrusPolitics Creating More Work In Farm Management Field
September 24, 2014
Paul Meador of Everglades Harvesting Co. says an immigration reform resolution can't come soon enough. Read More
CitrusUF/IFAS Names New Dean Of Research
September 24, 2014
Longtime citrus scientist Jackie Burns takes lead post. Read More
CitrusMajor Florida Citrus Planting Incentive Program Announc…
September 23, 2014
Citrus World Inc. plans to invest $10 million to encourage new acreage. Read More
CitrusNational Farmers Union Submits Comments On Clean Water …
September 23, 2014
Organization urges other industry groups to submit constructive comments. Read More
CitrusLuke Bryan Pays It Forward For Farming
September 23, 2014
Country superstar honors agriculture with his Farm Tour. Read More
CitrusNew Superhero Aims To Save Florida Citrus
September 22, 2014
Unique marketing partnership comes to life through comics. 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
CitrusFMC Acquires Cheminova
September 9, 2014
Transaction expected to close in early 2015. Read More
CitrusSouth Florida Wet Season Receives Slight Respite
September 9, 2014
Reports indicate most areas around the region received below average rainfall during August. Read More
CitrusWhole Farm Revenue Protection Adds Up For Crop Insuranc…
September 4, 2014
New USDA program to provide coverage for all agricultural commodities. Read More
CitrusUniversity Of Florida’s Class Of 2018 Raises The Bar …
September 4, 2014
Arriving College Of Agriculture And Life Sciences students bring strong credentials and diversity. Read More
CitrusFlorida Citrus Growers, Beekeepers Deal Proving To Be B…
September 3, 2014
EPA encourages further promotion and partnership in similar voluntary programs across the country. Read More
CitrusHarness The Marketing Power Of Video
September 1, 2014
Multimedia platform is an effective and inexpensive marketing tool for you to attract new customers and keep existing ones loyal to your brand. Read More