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
Freeze protected peach trees in Florida
Citrus
January 19, 2017
New Technology Could Take Weather Intel to the Extreme for Farmers
Scientists aiming to make difficult climate-based production decisions easier for growers. Read More
the sunset on a hot day
Citrus
January 18, 2017
NASA, NOAA Concur 2016 Was World’s Warmest Year on Record
For the third time in three years, the bar is raised on surface temperature statistics. Read More
'Gold nugget' seedless tangerine
Varieties & Rootstocks
January 18, 2017
5 Florida Citrus Nursery Trends Worth Watching
Gleanings from recent grower gatherings expose opportunities and possibilities in new variety development and management. Read More
Mobile technology farming
Citrus
January 17, 2017
The Future of Agriculture is in Your Hands — Literally [Opinion]
Can farmers actually reach the point of having too much information? Read More
Citrus
January 16, 2017
First Bee in Continental U.S. Listed as Endangered Species
Rusty patched bumble bee receives protection from activities that could cause it to go extinct. Read More
Example of how farmers can use iPads to track data around his operation
Citrus
January 16, 2017
Precision Agriculture and Big Data Gaining Traction Fast
Specialty crop adoption of hort tech to usher in new efficiencies and transparency. Read More
Urban vegetable farm in rural Cuba
Citrus
January 15, 2017
New Transitional Certification Program to Foster Organic Growth Receives USDA Approval
The program will be based on standards developed by the Organic Trade Association. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
January 20, 2017
Farming Will Always Have a Place in Flor…
Growers are resilient and agriculture will survive in our state and elsewhere. It has to, if we want food on our plates. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
Trump Taps Sonny Perdue for Secretary of…
Ag leaders applaud pick to head up USDA. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
New York Representatives Introduce Bill …
Legislators say the move aligns the program in the department to better fit the needs of agriculture businesses. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
New Technology Could Take Weather Intel …
Scientists aiming to make difficult climate-based production decisions easier for growers. Read More
Citrus
January 18, 2017
NASA, NOAA Concur 2016 Was World’s Warme…
For the third time in three years, the bar is raised on surface temperature statistics. Read More
Citrus
January 17, 2017
The Future of Agriculture is in Your Han…
Can farmers actually reach the point of having too much information? Read More
Citrus
January 16, 2017
First Bee in Continental U.S. Listed as …
Rusty patched bumble bee receives protection from activities that could cause it to go extinct. Read More
Citrus
January 16, 2017
Precision Agriculture and Big Data Gaini…
Specialty crop adoption of hort tech to usher in new efficiencies and transparency. Read More
Citrus
January 15, 2017
New Transitional Certification Program t…
The program will be based on standards developed by the Organic Trade Association. Read More
Citrus
January 13, 2017
Vilsack Bids Fond Farewell in Early Exit…
With no clear-cut replacement in sight, U.S. agriculture secretary leaves one week before his term officially ends. Read More
Citrus
January 12, 2017
Season’s First Slip Seen In Latest Flori…
Despite slight drop in Valencias, silver linings found. Read More
Citrus
January 10, 2017
Was 2016 the Worst Weather Year Ever?
Near all-time records in average temperature and costly climate-related disasters make a strong case for dubious distinction. Read More
Citrus
January 9, 2017
Longtime Florida Citrus Grower Earns Cha…
Hugh English recognized for his support of UF/IFAS research. Read More
Citrus
January 3, 2017
Soil Health Institute Launches Web-Based…
The tool allows users to connect soil health problems, management actions, and desired outcomes with research addressing a user’s particular situation. Read More
Citrus
January 3, 2017
Research Shows Limited Sign of Soil Adap…
Studies indicate that soils will typically respond strongly to increasing temperature by releasing more carbon dioxide. Read More
Citrus
January 2, 2017
New Organic Farming Cost Share Options A…
Organic growers may apply for certification cost share reimbursements; expanded eligibility for transition and state certification costs. Read More
Citrus
January 1, 2017
FSMA Training Strategy Available
Aid to help growers understand role in new food safety rules released. Read More
Citrus
December 29, 2016
Are Today’s Agriculture Regulation…
Donald Trump has been clear that he is no fan of burdensome rules that stifle productivity. Read More