NAPLES, Fla. — During the Sept. 19-21 Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association meeting, growers learned about the state of their industry discussed immigration reform and elected new leaders.
Mike Stuart, president, said more than 300 participated in the Sept. 19 first day events, similar to last year’s, and said the sessions saw high interest.
In a Sept. 19 state of the industry session, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam discussed the challenges facing the state’s agriculture, including issues involving trade, nutrition and water.
“Florida agriculture continues to be strong,” he said. “We have a whole lot of commodities even in this room. There are 300 around the state. Some are having the worst year ever and I think of my friends in the tomato business, while others are benefitting. Trade flows and demands are continuing to grow.”
In a session discussing the labor landscape, Craig Regelbrugge, vice president of government relations and research for the American Nursery & Landscape Association, Washington, D.C., said the agriculture industry won’t really know who’s on top of the immigration issue until dust settles after the Nov. 6 elections.
“We have pretty much made our case as an industry,” he said. “We’re not done with that. It’s constant and it’s ongoing. The reality I have experienced personally is that there has been a quiet sea change. You can go into nearly any Republican office (in Washington) and what you get is ‘I know there’s a problem and we need to deal with it’. They see agriculture as different. We’ve played the comprehensive game when that was the game. We are in this position where we’ve kind of made our case and believe we have gained ground.”
During the 69th convention, FFVA members also elected Keith Mixon, the Winter Haven, Fla.-based president of Dole Berry Co. LLC, Watsonville, Calif., as its 2012-2014 chairman, and Alan Temple, president of B&W Quality Growers Inc., Fellsmere, as its vice chairman.