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

CitrusFDA Announces Cooperative Agreement To Implement National Produce Safety Rule
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
MarketingMarketer Finds Niche With First-Of-Its-Kind Orange Maze
September 12, 2014
Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks? Not Bob McKellar, creator of the first orange maze in the U.S. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateMore Coastal Land In California Quarantined For Asian Citrus Psyllid
September 12, 2014
Additional Asian citrus psyllid adults and nymphs found on state’s central coast. 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 Insurance Seekers
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 For Agriculture [Opinion]
September 4, 2014
Arriving College Of Agriculture And Life Sciences students bring strong credentials and diversity. Read More

The Latest

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
CitrusFlorida Department Of Citrus Knocks NPR Piece Over Juic…
August 28, 2014
Agency goes to bat for the industry regarding statement slighting OJ's health benefits. Read More
CitrusFlorida Energy Firm Charged Up About Citrus Biomass Pot…
August 28, 2014
Machine called a game-changer when it comes to a cost-effective, efficient way for tree removal and re-purposing. Read More
CitrusNational Scientific Summit On Herbicide Resistant Weeds…
August 27, 2014
Topics to be covered include the economics of proactively managing herbicide resistance, education and outreach efforts, and incentives and regulatory initiatives. Read More
CitrusClean Water Conundrum: Ditch The Rule Or Ditch The Myth…
August 26, 2014
Regulation inundation causing a rising tide of confusion for farmers. Read More
CitrusCalifornia Citrus Cleared For Chinese Export
August 25, 2014
New agreement addresses concerns over brown rot. Read More
CitrusConsolidated Citrus Eyes Giant Planned Agricultural, Em…
August 25, 2014
South Florida real estate endeavor includes a 5 million-square-foot industrial park, including 200,000 square feet of retail space and 500 hotel rooms. Read More
Citrus‘Super Cold’ Winter, Sizzling Summer On Tap In 2015…
August 21, 2014
The 223rd edition of the folksy regional forecast manual predicting extremes. Read More
CitrusBorder Crisis Not Helping Farmers
August 19, 2014
As thousands cross into the U.S. seeking refuge, calls for ag labor reform are lost in the uproar. Read More
CitrusU.S. Sugar Buying South Florida Sugar Cane And Vegetabl…
August 15, 2014
Purported deal worth $100 million to purchase farmland and assets of Knight Management Inc. Read More
CitrusFlorida’s Future Farming Leaders Dig Up Knowledge…
August 15, 2014
Class 3 of FFVA's Emerging Leader Development Program learn a lot from road trip to California's Salinas Valley. Read More
CitrusWater Bond Will Appear On California Ballot
August 14, 2014
Voters will decide if thirsty state will spend $7.5 billion, including $2.7 billion for storage. Read More