Expanded educational sessions and a new state of the industry update rank among the changes characterizing this year’s Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association convention.

Rearranged FFVA 2011 tackles food safety, labor and water issues     Organizers of FFVA 2011, scheduled for Sept. 18-21 at the Ritz-Carlton in Palm Beach, Fla., have changed the schedule, trying to include more conference time for networking, said Lisa Lochridge, director of public affairs for the Maitland-based organization.

“We’re moving some of the recreational activities to the end of the week,” she said. “Our new state of the industry update will kick off the convention with a panel of key agricultural leaders giving their take on where they see things now and down the road for Florida agriculture. That should be a great theme-setter for the convention.”

In the Sept. 19 state of industry update, which follows the opening session luncheon, FFVA president Mike Stuart is scheduled to moderate the discussion that includes Tom Stenzel, president and chief executive officer of the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C. and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

The convention’s first session then tackles the Food Safety Modernization Act with Jim Gorny, senior adviser for produce safety at the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and Martha Roberts, University of Florida consultant and former deputy commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Sessions scheduled for Sept. 20 cover water policy and labor legislation and regulations

Washington-based agriculture lobbyist and attorney will debate labor issues with the head of Florida Legal Services’ Migrant Farmworker Justice Project while the water session includes panelists from state agencies and the South Florida Water Management District.

Political analyst, author and pollster Scott Rasmussen is scheduled as the keynote speaker during FFVA’s Sept. 20 traditional southern “cracker” breakfast.

The Sept. 20 awards luncheon recognizes FFVA’s retail merchandiser, researcher and legislator of the year.

The convention also features a golf tournament and fishing excursion, spousal activities and a benefit auction.