(UPDATED COVERAGE, Sept. 18) NAPLES, Fla. — During the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association’s annual convention, attendees learned how a retail promotional partnership could help strengthen the marketing of the state’s produce.
They also elected new leaders and heard how the mid-term elections could change the country’s political landscape.
At a Sept. 17 luncheon, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said the Maitland-based FFVA’s joining the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Fresh from Florida membership program should help increase sales.
Fresh from Florida promotes the Sunshine State’s produce throughout North America and overseas through retail merchandising that includes a logo and weekly store ads.
“As of this meeting, every member of FFVA is automatically a member of Fresh from Florida,” Putnam said. “That’s a big deal.”
The agency has identified foodservice and is working with some iconic Florida restaurants to include Fresh from Florida products on their menus, he said.
“They did it on their own because of perceived value of the program,” he said. “It means because of the quality of the product we’re promoting, we’ve taken it up a notch. We’re playing in the big leagues.”
Discussing political trends, Bryan Tyson, vice president of political operations for Associated Industries of Florida, said the state’s Republican Party isn’t attracting Hispanic and other minority voter registrations.
“Republicans have got to wake up and understand if they don’t start to engage the only portion of the electorate that’s growing, they’re going to be extinct,” he said.
During the Sept. 18 traditional Cracker breakfast, keynote speaker Mark Halperin, managing editor of Bloomberg Politics, gave participants an overview of the Washington, D.C., political landscape and races throughout the U.S.
Because of low public approval ratings, he said President Obama has “kind of given up” and decided he won’t get anything accomplished this year.
Labor reform historically occurs when there’s strong presidential leadership and the president hasn’t governed as a centrist and doesn’t have the ability to form coalitions needed to pass bipartisan legislation, he said.
“I don’t foresee this president doing any kind of comprehensive immigration reform,” Halperin said. “It should be a great year nationally for Republicans in the House and governor elections. I suspect Republicans will do well enough to take the Senate back.”
In a session on water quality issues, David Childs, a partner with Hopping Green & Sams in Tallahassee, said there is a heightened focus on water policy.
“Pay attention to these water issues over the next couple of years as they will have a big impact,” he said. “Look at Tampa Bay and what it looks like now and what it looked like in the early 1980s. That is proof positive we can solve water issues in the state.”
In other news, FFVA members elected Alan Temple, president of Fellsmere-based B&W Quality Growers Inc., as its chairman.
Paul Orsenigo, owner of Belle Glade-based Orsenigo Farms Inc., and Growers Management, was elected vice chairman.