Florida’s Future Farming Leaders Dig Up Knowledge In The Golden State

Class 3 of FFVA’s Emerging Leader Development Program recently spent three days touring farms, packinghouses, and shipping operations throughout California’s Salinas Valley. The 11 young professionals visited with growers of a variety of specialty crops, some of which they hadn’t seen before, including artichokes and mushrooms.
It was the final session for the class members before they graduate at FFVA’s annual convention Sept. 17-19 in Naples.

Class members said they were struck by the size and scope of California operations and impressed by the innovation and technology they saw on the farms and in produce processing plants. Growers shared their concerns with the group, with availability of labor and water topping the list of challenges. The men and women who hosted each stop were generous with their time and spoke candidly about markets, customers, new products, and more. Class members had a similar experience in January during their tour of South Florida farms and packinghouses. It’s that level of information exchange that makes FFVA’s Emerging Leader program so valuable for participants.

Members of Class 3 of FFVA’s Emerging Leader Development Program toured artisan lettuce production at Tanimura & Antle in Salinas, CA. Photo by Lisa Lochridge
Members of Class 3 of FFVA’s Emerging Leader Development Program toured artisan lettuce production at Tanimura & Antle in Salinas, CA. Photo by Lisa Lochridge

California Dreamin’

In California, the group saw production of numerous crops including strawberries, lettuce and leafy greens, celery, mushrooms, and peppers. They also toured processing plants that produce bagged salads and leaf lettuce for retail and foodservice customers. They met with representatives from C.H. Robinson, equipment builder Ramsay Highlander, the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California, and the United Fresh Produce Association.
Tour stops included California Giant Berry Farms, Gizdich Ranch, Duda, Taylor Farms California, Mann Packing, Ocean Mist Farms, Church Brothers, Uesugi Farms, D’Arrigo Brothers, Monterey Mushrooms, Tanimura & Antle, and Bianchi Vineyard.
“Our experience from this educational trip was profound and encourages me to educate consumers on the differences in production between the two states, to always support U.S. farmers by buying Fresh From Florida produce when available, and to rely on our western growers when Florida crops are not in season,” said class member Jamie Lang.

Learning Along The Way

Class 3 started out the year by participating in FFVA’s 2013 convention last September. They met and mingled with FFVA members, heard from industry leaders about top-of-mind issues, and laid the foundation for a year of learning.
In a November seminar at FFVA’s Maitland office, class members learned more about the association’s history, mission, and its staff. They were briefed on key issues and how FFVA works on behalf of its membership to develop solutions. Members got to know each other better through team-building exercises.

In January, participants braved a cold snap in South Florida with a tour of farms and packinghouses in Belle Glade, Loxahatchee, LaBelle, and Clewiston. Nine members of the Western Growers Association’s leadership program joined them on the tour. The three-day trip was capped off by a roundtable discussion with industry leaders on the Farm Bill, immigration reform, and political challenges.

The class joined members of FFVA’s board of directors to walk the halls of Florida’s capitol during the legislative session in March. Members of the leadership group saw firsthand the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of the legislative process. For some, it was their first visit — but certainly not their last — to Tallahassee.

Each year, graduates have finished the year-long program better informed and more plugged into the big issues of the day. Just as important, they have expanded and solidified their network of peers throughout Florida and in California. They are eager to use what they have learned to become better leaders and advocates for Florida agriculture in their community, in Tallahassee, and beyond. Their increased engagement and involvement will strengthen FFVA and help our industry continue to thrive.

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
citrus psyllid closeup
Insect & Disease Update
February 18, 2017
The War on Citrus Psyllids Still Raging
Despite control challenges, keeping the pest in check remains the best approach to managing HLB. Read More
IMPAC.org screenshot
Citrus
February 17, 2017
How Precision Agriculture Is Helping Farmers Win Over Consumers
New Florida-based organization is seeking to break down barriers between farmers and shoppers by providing a platform to not only show what is grown, but how it's grown. Read More
Brussels Sprout on a fork
Citrus
February 16, 2017
Food Trends Driving Growth Opportunities for Florida Farmers
More niche markets emerging for growers to give consumers what they want and need. Read More
John Merritt
Citrus
February 15, 2017
Florida Citrus Community Loses Longtime Leader to Leukemia
John Merritt, known as an innovative grower and staunch industry advocate, was 60. Read More
Grower Jonathan Brown of Bethel Farms inspects his citrus grove.
Citrus
February 9, 2017
Florida Citrus Forecast Comes Full Circle With Latest Update
Amid up-and-down pattern, USDA puts all-orange production numbers back on target with initial estimate. Read More
Load of pot poorly camouflaged as Key limes
Citrus
February 8, 2017
Nearly Two Tons of Pot Plucked From Load of Key Limes
Shaped to resemble the tangy citrus fruit, law enforcement officials extract 34,764 packages allegedly filled with an ingredient not intended for pies. Read More
Citrus
February 5, 2017
New Product Helps Bees Brush Off Mites
A British company developed Bee Gym, distributed by Vita Ltd. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
February 22, 2017
New Insecticide Available to Combat Suck…
Minecto Pro from Syngenta has received EPA approval for use in specialty and vegetable crops to control lepidopteran and other pests. Read More
Citrus
February 22, 2017
Skilled Labor Needed to Keep Agriculture…
Even with the challenge of feeding a growing global population at hand, has focus been lost on recruiting where jobs on the farm are need most? Read More
Citrus
February 17, 2017
How Precision Agriculture Is Helping Far…
New Florida-based organization is seeking to break down barriers between farmers and shoppers by providing a platform to not only show what is grown, but how it's grown. Read More
Citrus
February 16, 2017
Food Trends Driving Growth Opportunities…
More niche markets emerging for growers to give consumers what they want and need. Read More
Citrus
February 15, 2017
Florida Citrus Community Loses Longtime …
John Merritt, known as an innovative grower and staunch industry advocate, was 60. Read More
Citrus
February 9, 2017
Florida Citrus Forecast Comes Full Circl…
Amid up-and-down pattern, USDA puts all-orange production numbers back on target with initial estimate. Read More
Citrus
February 8, 2017
Nearly Two Tons of Pot Plucked From Load…
Shaped to resemble the tangy citrus fruit, law enforcement officials extract 34,764 packages allegedly filled with an ingredient not intended for pies. Read More
Citrus
February 5, 2017
New Product Helps Bees Brush Off Mites
A British company developed Bee Gym, distributed by Vita Ltd. Read More
Citrus
February 3, 2017
Wonderful Citrus Stakes a Major Claim in…
Acquisition of the largest citrus marketer in Florida makes California company the crop’s top grower, shipper, and packer in the U.S. Read More
Citrus
February 2, 2017
Florida Seeking to Fete More Eco-Innovat…
Nominations open for the Commissioner’s Agricultural-Environmental Award. Read More
Citrus
February 2, 2017
University of Florida Celebrating a Cent…
Cheers all around for UF/IFAS' CREC, the largest facility in the world devoted to a single commodity. Read More
Citrus
January 30, 2017
List of Best College Farms Released
Website evaluated farms on sustainability factors, community programming, and courses available at the university or college farm, not just in the classroom. Read More
Citrus
January 30, 2017
Game Far From Over for Florida Citrus
Attendees of the 2017 Florida Citrus Show convene to commiserate over current challenges, vet future wins via new varieties. Read More
Citrus
January 25, 2017
Ban Lifted on USDA News Releases
Acting USDA deputy administrator says the practice is typical with new administration changes. Read More
Citrus
January 25, 2017
USDA-ARS to Halt Publishing News Release…
News media confirm report. Read More
Citrus
January 24, 2017
Trump Withdraws U.S. From Trans-Pacific …
Fresh produce export market to hit a wall with signing of executive order. Read More
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