If you haven’t already registered for FFVA 2012, make sure you do it soon. As always, our annual convention promises to be a must-do event. It’s your chance to catch up and keep company with your colleagues and specialty crop industry leaders from Florida and beyond.

The convention, set for Sept. 19-21, has a packed agenda that features James Olson as keynote speaker. His isn’t necessarily a household name, but his account of his career as a leading agent in overseas operations for the CIA will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Our breakout Issues Forums will tackle the topics that keep you awake at night: the economy and a global marketplace, access to an adequate workforce, how the political scene in our state and nation’s capitals affect agriculture, and more.

You’ll have the chance to enjoy the beautiful outdoors during the golf tournament and fishing excursion. And there will be plenty of fun for your spouse or guest. All of this against the background of the lush Ritz-Carlton in Naples, a beautiful tropical location.

Register online at www.ffva.com/ffva2012. You’ll need to book your hotel reservations separately. We look forward to seeing you in Naples. 

Future FFVA leaders

FFVA has selected a dozen up-and-coming agriculture industry leaders to participate in its second Emerging Leader Development Program.

The 2012-2013 class members are Jonathan Allen of R.C. Hatton Inc.; Nicholas Basore of TKM Bengard Farms; Ian Bessell of ABC Research Laboratories; Lee Ann Hinton Coleman of Hinton Farms Produce; Thomas Dalton of Farm Credit of Central Florida; Carleton Johns of Tater Farms; Jessica Kerstein of Lipman Produce; Amber Kosinsky of Wish Farms; Christian Miller of Glades Crop Care; Tom Mitchell of Riverfront Packing Co.; Derek Orsenigo of Grower’s Management Inc.; and Joby Sherrod of A. Duda & Sons.

The program is designed to develop leaders who are prepared with a depth of knowledge of the many issues facing agriculture.

It seeks to provide them with the education and tools to improve the sustainability and economic viability of specialty crop agriculture and to strengthen grassroots engagement in FFVA and other industry organizations.

FFVA launched the Emerging Leader Development Program in 2011 with an inaugural class of 10. The group will graduate at FFVA’s 2012 Annual Convention in September, and the second year of the program will begin.

“We’re so pleased with our first year,” says Sonia Tighe, who leads the program as executive director of the Maitland-based Florida Specialty Crop Foundation. “The class members were extremely engaged from the very beginning and immersed themselves in each session. The next class also is an outstanding group, and we’re looking forward to the activities of the coming year.”

The year-long program includes meetings with legislators in Tallahassee, seminars provided by FFVA staff members and other experts on current issues, tours of venues to study environmental issues and water management, and visits to specialty crop production areas.

The program has had many valuable components, class members say.

"The networking experience we've had with the people we've met, the speakers we've heard and within our group has been great," says Rob Atchley of A. Duda & Sons.

April Roe Porter of Wm. G. Roe & Sons says she is fortunate to have been a part of the program.

“It’s been amazing to have the opportunity to go through a program like this—the education, the connections, the travel—that’s something so many young people in agriculture won’t get the chance to do,” she says.

More information about FFVA’s Emerging Leader Development Program can be found on www.ffva.com in the Membership section.

Botts named to EPA committee

FFVA's Dan Botts, vice president, industry resources, has been named to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Committee for its 2012-2014 term.

The FRRCC is an independent committee that advises EPA on a wide range of environmental issues that are important to agriculture and rural communities.

Committee members were selected from a large number of applicants responding to a request for nominations published in the Feb. 13 Federal Register.

New members include representatives from the academic community, industry, non-governmental organizations, and state, local, and tribal governments. 

Lisa Lochridge is the director of public affairs for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association in Maitland. She can be reached at (321) 214-5206 or lisalochridge@ffva.com.