Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association Standing Strong at 75
For 75 years, the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association (FFVA) has been a leading voice for Florida agriculture. This year, FFVA proudly celebrates its heritage of advocacy for our state’s fruit and vegetable producers. FFVA’s legacy has been built on the strength of its members — the growers who work hard to meet daily challenges while feeding our country. Our powerful, collective voice ensures that agriculture is at the table on the issues that matter most. On every front, the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association continued to lead the way on sound policy and developing solutions to this past season’s weather, trade, and political climate.
Hurricane Relief Finally Arrived
FFVA worked closely with its members and state officials in the days after the storm to gather data on damages — an important first step in seeking federal aid. Irma caused $2.5 billion in damage to agriculture alone. FFVA joined other ag groups calling for federal disaster relief, which finally arrived months later.
FFVA and the Florida Specialty Crop Foundation also raised $118,000 for the Redlands Christian Migrant Association Hurricane Relief Fund.
Seeking Relief in a Renegotiated NAFTA
FFVA devoted resources to advocate for specialty crops as NAFTA is renegotiated. Working with the Florida Department of Agriculture and our Congressional delegation, FFVA advanced a proposal that would provide trade remedies to specialty crop growers harmed by unfair trade practices.
FFVA also has worked as part of a national coalition to ensure that the specialty crop industry’s priorities are included in the next farm bill. The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance pushed for continued investment in important programs, including research, nutrition, fighting pests and diseases, and support for trade.
In Tallahassee, the legislative session was the least productive in 20 years, although agriculture fared well. Producers who grow under screen structures will get property tax relief. Growers also will get tax breaks on hurricane repairs and transportation costs. Another bill will streamline the wetlands permitting process. FFVA joined other business groups in opposing a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have required the use of E-Verify. The proposal did not make it to the ballot.
The Push for Workforce Solutions
Workforce remains a critical concern for agriculture. Florida is the No. 1 user of the H-2A guestworker visa program, and FFVA helps producers access the program in rapidly growing numbers. This season, FFVA filed 161 applications in 16 states for 14,250 workers — a 48% increase over last season.
Working with other organizations, FFVA participated in negotiations on legislation in Congress that would have set up a new H-2C visa program. Ultimately, the bill did not pass, and FFVA will continue to work toward workforce solutions for its members.
On food safety, FFVA helped create the Florida Agricultural Plastics Recycling Cooperative to develop solutions for waste plastics disposal. It also helped organize a farm tour for FDA officials to underscore the need for flexibility in new regulations related to water testing. FFVA also is a key member of the Produce Safety Alliance, training companies on the requirements of new food safety rules as they are phased in.
On crop protection, FFVA worked to communicate its members’ research priorities to the scientific community, helping to ensure projects are relevant and focus on applied research. It also secured renewals for important Section 18 labels for products for use on citrus trees infected with greening.
FFVA has been instrumental in helping the state develop its Best Management Practices Implementation Assurance program to ensure growers are recognized for stewarding water resources. It also is working with water management districts as they propose rules and update plans to ensure sustainable and equitable water supplies.
Partnering with Producers
From the field to national issues, FFVA is an essential partner for Florida producers. We’re proud to advocate for Florida agriculture. Florida farmers keep our state’s economy strong and grow nutritious fruits and vegetables for Americans. FFVA stands well positioned to help safeguard a strong and vibrant future for Florida agriculture.