Trade issues are top of mind these days for specialty crop producers. Efforts have been underway since early this year to remedy damage to the state’s fresh fruit and vegetable industry from Mexican product being dumped into the U.S. during Florida’s harvest season. That’s a topic that FFVA will focus on in during its upcoming 74th annual convention Sept. 25-27 in Amelia Island.
Carolyn Gleason of the Washington office of law firm McDermott Will and Emery and Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, who’s with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, will explain during one of the three Issues Forums what’s at stake and what FFVA and other groups are doing to ensure the industry can stay competitive.
Another forum, titled, “They just don’t understand: Consumer angst about food and what you can do about it,” will focus on consumer trust. As consumers become more interested in how their food is grown, processed and brought to market, the food system must ensure it builds trust. J.J. Jones of the Center for Food Integrity will talk about how to engage and connect with consumers, telling your story so it will resonate.
Access to a stable, legal workforce remains a top concern for producers, so that will be touched on that at the convention as well. With border walls and travel bans dominating the national headlines, where does that leave agriculture? Craig Regglebruge, National Council of Agriculture Employers, will discuss how our industry is strategizing to make sure the administration understands our unique workforce needs.
The convention also will feature two outstanding keynote speakers. State Rep. Jake Raburn will offer his take on the state of the industry during the opening luncheon on Sept. 25. During the annual traditional Cracker Breakfast on Sept. 26, we’ll hear from New York Times best-selling author Andy Andrews. Andrews, who has an interesting life story, wrote “The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success.” The book stayed on the Times’ bestseller list for 17 weeks. The newspaper hailed Andrews as a “modern-day Will Rogers who has quietly become one of the most influential people in America.”
In between sessions, there will be ample opportunity for networking with colleagues and connecting with our many sponsors. The Florida Specialty Crop Foundation will again offer up a silent auction with loads of great items such as travel packages, fashion and jewelry, artwork, wine selections, and more. Proceeds will benefit several of the Foundation’s priorities, including FFVA’s Emerging Leader Development Program and the Redlands Christian Migrant Association. The final dinner with music and dancing also will feature a spirited live auction.
To wrap up the convention, golfers can hit the fairways at the Omni Amelia Island Ocean Links Golf Course. Anglers will be treated to a great fishing excursion in the shallow back country saltwater estuaries, flats, and inlets west of Amelia Island.
To see more about the convention and to register, go to ffva.com/convention. You also can download our mobile app by searching on “FFVA” in the Apple Store or Google Play.