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Join our Fight Against Food Insecurity

June 2023 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Calling Florida Farmers and Ranchers: Join our Fight Against Food Insecurity and Help us feed Florida with Florida-Grown products!

Florida Farm Bureau has united with Feeding Florida to ensure that fresh, Florida grown products reach food-insecure families in local communities statewide.

Florida Farm Bureau has donated $100,000 to Feeding Florida for the purchase of fresh food products directly from Florida farms. If you are interested in participating in this project, simply provide your farm’s contact information and available commodities by clicking here. Your products will be distributed through Feeding Florida’s nine food banks across the state, making a real impact to families facing food insecurity.

Don’t miss this opportunity to provide your farm-fresh product to Florida communities! Provide your information here by June 9, 2023.

SCOTUS Strikes EPA’s Expansive WOTUS Definition

June 2023 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

The United States Supreme Court struck down EPA’s expansive Waters of the United States (WOTUS) definition in a 9 – 0 ruling on Thursday, May 25! The reasoning was split, with five justices (Alito, Roberts, Gorsuch, and Barrett) largely adopting the Rapanos plurality decision on what American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) advocated for in their amicus brief. The other four justices (Kavanaugh, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Jackson) thought this went too far in regards to wetlands. Here are some highlights:

· Significant-Nexus Is Dead: SCOTUS basically says that the EPA employs sig-nex to create authority where it otherwise lacks. The judges were unanimous on eliminating significant-nexus.

· WOTUS Definition: The CWA’s use of “waters” encompasses only those relatively permanent, standing or continuously flowing bodies of water forming geographical features that are described in ordinary parlance as streams, oceans, rivers, and lakes.

· Wetlands: As for wetlands, the CWA extends to only those wetlands that are as a practical matter indistinguishable from waters of the United States. This requires the party asserting jurisdiction over adjacent wetlands to establish first, that the adjacent body of water constitutes waters of the United states, (i.e., a relatively permanent body of water connected to traditional interstate navigable waters); and second, that the wetland has a continuous surface connection with that water, making it difficult to determine where the water ends and the wetland begins. Four justices (Kavanaugh, Kagan, Sotomayor, & Jackson) thought this went too far.

· SCOTUS Critical of Past EPA Actions: The majority absolutely eviscerates EPA’s history of ignoring the Clean Water Act, ignoring Supreme Court decisions, and ignoring common sense. The Court describes EPA’s approach as a “freewheeling inquiry” with “weak textual argument[s].”

· Implications on 2023 WOTUS Rule: As EPA was belligerent to bring their new rule into the record even at our request to delay publication of the rule, SCOTUS took that opportunity to thoroughly tear it apart in Section IV. Remember that the Sackett case addresses the pre-2015 WOTUS definition, not the 2023 Rule. As a result, the 2023 Rule remains on the books, but functionally EPA and the Corps cannot enforce it. AFBF’s litigation in Texas and
North Dakota challenging the rule will thus be the likely vehicle to get the rule officially tossed.

Due to the implications on the 2023 WOTUS rule, the EPA and the Army Corps must go back to the drawing board. As this plays out, we will closely scrutinize their efforts to revise the definition of waters of the United States for compliance with the Court’s findings in this case. Those that wish to read the Court’s opinion with highlights of pertinent information can find it here.


Florida Pork Improvement Group Annual Meeting and Delegate Elections

June 2023 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Public Notice by the Florida Pork Improvement Group and the National Pork Board

The election of pork producer delegate candidates for the 2024 National Pork Producers (Pork Act) Delegate Body will take place at 10:00am on Thursday, July 27, 2023 in conjunction with a Board of Directors meeting of the Florida Pork Improvement Group at the Florida FFA Association office, 5600 SW 34th St., Gainesville, FL 32608. All Florida pork producers are invited to attend.

Any producer, age 18 or older, who is a resident of Florida and has paid all assessments due may be considered as a delegate candidate and/or participate in the election. All eligible producers are encouraged to bring with them a sales receipt proving that hogs were sold in their name and the checkoff deducted. For more information, contact the Florida Pork Improvement Group, PO Box 147030 Gainesville, FL 32614 or by phone, (352) 384-2633.

Land Grant Partner

June 2023 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

dr angleBy J. Scott Angle
[email protected]

You get first shot at the latest blueberry varieties developed in Gainesville, strawberries from Balm, peanuts from Marianna, forages tested in Ona, tropical foliage from Apopka, sweet corn from Belle Glade and squash from Homestead.

The common thread running through this tapestry of discovery is the Florida Foundation Seed Producers (FFSP). John Beuttenmuller and his team make sure that our innovation machine runs for you.

FFSP works closely with the UF/IFAS plant breeding team on cultivars that thrive under Florida conditions. When those varieties are ready for release, Florida farmers get the opportunity to use them, generally years ahead of international competitors.

Meanwhile, when that head start plays out and you’re moving on to new varieties, FFSP eventually licenses cultivars abroad to protect its intellectual property, and they reinvest that money into Florida-focused innovation. 

It’s hard to imagine that we’d have a new blueberry lab in Gainesville without this revenue stream. You’re getting an innovation factory for the next discovery funded in significant part from royalties from the last breakthrough. 

FFSP licensing royalties have also been used to build greenhouses for our strawberry breeding team. And one of the high-profile gifts of our last capital campaign was the establishment of the FFSP Plant Breeding Endowment. It sets up a friendly competition to find the most potentially impactful new breeding projects at UF and brings in representatives from industry to pick which ones to fund.

FFSP does more than promote new versions of old standbys. It is central to the search for the next new Florida crop. Namely, it’s been a prime sponsor of 33 projects aimed at figuring out if enterprises ranging from barley to vanilla, olives to vegetable high tunnels, are the best bet for a new commercially viable commodity. 

And now that we’ve got 15 new faculty with expertise in artificial intelligence, we need to jumpstart their work. FFSP helped light the fuse by providing much of the funding to bring together 11 teams around projects ranging from accelerated precision plant breeding to automated strawberry yield protection. We expect AI technologies, licenses and startup companies to result.

Beuttenmuller is a friend of the Farm Bureau. He sits on your Peanut and Cotton Advisory Committee. He’s long made sure Farm Bureau is represented on his FFSP board. Nate Jameson, whose wife Anna is on the Sumter County Farm Bureau board, is FFSP’s board vice president. Kevin Morgan served on the board until his retirement as assistant to the former Farm Bureau president. Another former FFBF administrator, Jaime Jerrells, served on the FFSP board and continues to do so in her new role for the commissioner of agriculture.

Beuttenmuller is a great example of someone who helps ensure that UF/IFAS innovation is relevant to Florida farmers by actually getting it into your hands through commercialization. 

New crop varieties are intellectual property. By protecting that property, Beuttenmuller and FFSP are protecting Florida agriculture. 

Scott Angle is the University of Florida’s Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and leader of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).

2023 CARES Nominations Closing Soon

June 2023 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

As the voice of agriculture, Florida Farm Bureau Federation strives to honor farming and ranching families throughout the state through public recognition and by also telling their stories of environmental stewardship.

Florida Farm Bureau’s County Alliance Responsible Environmental Stewardship (CARES) program publicly recognizes Florida farmers and ranchers who demonstrate exemplary efforts to protect Florida’s natural resources by implementing Best Management Practices.

Recipients are awarded a This Farm CARES sign to demonstrate to all Floridians that agricultural producers are fully committed to protecting Florida’s environment.

Help us continue to formally recognize and share the stories of Florida farmers and ranchers and their efforts to be good environmental stewards by nominating your own farm/ ranch or that of a colleague.

To nominate a farmer or rancher for their commitment to conserving our state’s natural resources for future generations, click here. The nomination deadline for the 2023 year is June 16, 2023.

Email questions regarding the nomination process to [email protected] or contact the CARES Coordinator, Courtney Darling at (352) 204-7609.

2023 Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Conference

June 2023 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Young Farmers & Ranchers are between the ages of 18-35 who have a desire to network, share ideas, participate in community projects and hone their leadership skills. The Florida Farm Bureau has an array of opportunities for this group of young agriculturists to become strong leaders for the future of agriculture.

One of those opportunities is the Annual Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference, which will be held July 7-9, 2023 in Orlando at the at the Orlando World Center Marriot.

The weekend conference, themed, Growing Forward, will guide attendees in ways to grow as individuals and on their farming operations. The agenda is slated with competitive events like the Achievement in AgricultureExcellence in Agriculture and Discussion Meet, farm tours, networking opportunities and professional development sessions.

This year hear from keynote speakers Cody and Erika Archie of Bar 7 Ranch in Gatesville, Texas. Together, these first-generation ranchers raise beef cattle and dorper sheep while also utilizing various social media channels to serve as agriculture advocates.

Breakout sessions start Friday July 7 at noon where you can Grow Forward by hearing from speakers like Dr. Wendy-Lin Bartels, Research Assistant Scientist at the University of Florida’s School of Forest, Fisheries and Geomatic Sciences and Tom Donnelly, Grassroots Program Development for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Saturday July 8 is full of farm and fun festivities with a various selection of farm tours to choose from including Showcase of Citrus, H&A Farms, Agristarts and Rafter 4R Ranch. The tours are from 11- 2:30 p.m. and includes a bagged lunch. Sign up here for a farm tour here and learn more about local Florida Agriculture. The evening will wrap up with cornhole and volleyball tournaments followed by live music.

Applications are now open for the Program Activity Award and Conference Scholarships. The deadline to apply for the Program Activity Award, Conference Scholarships, Excellence in Agriculture Award and Achievement in Agriculture Award is June 9 by 5 p.m. The deadline to apply for the Discussion Meet is June 16, by 5 p.m.

The room block is available for stays (insert dates) and closes (insert date). The last day to register for the 2023 Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference.

For more information on the conference and to register, click here.

AgWATCH Session Recap

May 2023 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

AgWATCH is an update of legislative issues affecting agriculture.

Sine Die

On Friday, May 5th, at eleven o’clock in the morning, the Sergeants dropped the handkerchiefs and the 2023 Legislative Session celebrated sine die! While this year’s legislative session certainly saw its fair share of controversial and headline worthy legislation, the Florida House and Senate worked tirelessly to pass good bills and a robust budget that will positively impact our industry and the state as a whole.


The Budget
Weighing in at the largest in Florida’s history, this year’s budget boasts $117 billion, with a large portion of that aiding the agriculture industry. In an effort to make a positive impact on the environment and protect our industry for years to come, $100 million was allocated to the Rural and Family Lands Program, which supports the purchase of conservation easements to protect agricultural land from development. IFAS received $3.8 million for workload, $6.2 million for BMP research, and $10.9 million for the Center for Artificial Intelligence. Additionally, $30 million was allocated for citrus research.


Tax Package
The legislature spent the last several weeks of session negotiating a sweeping tax overhaul which included a sales tax exemption for materials used to construct or repair permanent or temporary fencing to contain, confine, or process cattle. Most notably, however, the package prohibits local municipalities from levying special assessments on agricultural land. This piece of legislation was a priority of FFBF this session. To view additional information on the bill, click here.


Senate Bill 1184 / House Bill 1343
On day 60 of session, SB 1184 / HB 1343 died in Senate messages. This bill aimed to make positive changes for the construction of new farm worker housing, but unfortunately the legislature ran out of time while negotiating the nuances of the bill. We want to thank Representative Kaley Tuck and Senator Jay Collins for their hard work on the bill. The House passed the bill unanimously on the floor but fell short in the Senate. We anticipate continuing this good work next year. To view additional information on the bill, click here.


Senate Bill 1164 / House Bill 1279
The Department of Agriculture Package Bill passed on the House and Senate floors unanimously. This bill is a multi-faceted, department/industry wide package that includes the Farm TEAM Card. This card is meant to provide a more streamlined process for producers to receive the agricultural sales tax exemptions they are given in our state. This bill is on its way to the Governor’s desk, and we will be providing more information soon on how to apply for your own Farm TEAM Card. To view additional information on the bill, click here.


Senate Bill 1718 / House Bill 1617
Florida Farm Bureau was instrumental in ensuring that that the implementation of the federal E-verify system was prospective, applying only to new hires after July 1, 2023. Additionally, the bill exempted private employers with 24 or less employees from having to use the federal E-Verify system when hiring workers and we substantially lessened the punitive side of the original bill that was presented. To view additional information on the bill, click here.

Every Day is Earth Day for Farmers

April 2023 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Earth Day is celebrated April 22.

A national Earth Day toolkit encourages citizens to band together to advance sustainability and climate action in commemoration of the day.

Practicing sustainability is a way of life for Florida farmers and ranchers. More than 10 million acres are dedicated to agriculture. These lands provide environmental benefits such as preserving the natural landscape and numerous ecosystem services. The careful stewardship of these lands contributes to clean air, water and provides wildlife habitat. Forests and rangeland support carbon sequestration, helping combat climate change.

As the voice for Florida agriculture, farmers and ranchers must tell their story of sustainability every day. Protecting the environment is what we do so we can provide an abundant supply of food and fiber for Americans nationwide.

Help us tell our story on sustainability. If you are a farmer who implements these everyday best management practices on the farm, we want to connect with you. Learn more about our This Farm CARES program and how you can nominate your or a neighbor’s operation.

AFBF President Zippy Duvall Tours Florida Farms

April 2023 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

American Farm Bureau President, Zippy Duvall traveled to Washington and Jackson Counties March 28-29 to discuss issues that Florida producers are facing and to explore the diversity of farming in the area. On Tuesday, along with Florida Farm Bureau President Jeb Smith, President Duvall spent the morning learning about the process and benefits of silvopasture and he participated in a roundtable discussion with peanut and cotton producers over lunch. The next stop was a cattle ranch in Chipley, owned by Washington County Farm Bureau President George Fisher, and then to the Enviva Pellet Mill in Cottondale.

To finish up the day, President Duvall spoke at the Washington County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting. Topics of his address included the importance of the upcoming Farm Bill, challenges with labor and Waters of the US (WOTUS). President Duvall said that with there being 260 newly elected officials that have never voted on a Farm Bill, it is critical for agriculture to continue the pressure to pass a Farm Bill to protect the livelihood of farming and ranching.

On Wednesday morning, President Duvall met with Farm Bureau leaders over breakfast to discuss the role county Farm Bureaus play in the legislative process. The next stop on day two was a visit to the UF/IFAS Peanut and Cattle Breeding Unit in Greenwood. The tour ended with a trip to Marianna where the group visited a Satsuma farm.

President Duvall said he appreciated the hospitality of the host counties, and he saw firsthand the hard work and dedication from the producers he met.

To view all the photos from the tour click here.

Annual Legislative Session Update

April 2023 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

The Florida legislature convened on February 7 to begin the sixty day process for the annual legislative session. Florida Farm Bureau, in the conjunction with the Florida Ag Coalition, is working with our friends in the legislature to help promote policy which supports Florida agriculture.

Senate Bill 1184 and House Bill 1343, sponsored by Senator Collins and Representative Tuck, is an industry-wide package which makes productive amendments to Florida Statutes relating to agriculture. Both bills are flowing through the process, passing unanimously through their committees thus far. Additionally,  Senate Bill 1164 and House Bill 1279, sponsored by Senator Collins and Representative Alvarez contains legislation which would create the Farm TEAM card. This card will provide a streamlined process for producers purchasing tax exempt materials across the state. This bill is also making great traction, and has passed unanimously through their committees as well.

While agriculture policy does take majority of our attention, we also make sure to focus on broader initiatives that affect the business community as a whole. This year, the business industry made a major push for tort reform in the state. House Bill 837, sponsored by Representative Fabricio, Representative Gregory, and Senator Hutson, which makes significant changes to Florida’s civil justice system. This good legislation passed through the House of Representatives with 31 yeas and 15 nays, and the Senate with 23 yeas and 15 nays. Governor DeSantis signed the bill on March 24, 2023, where it immediately took effect upon signing. For more information on House Bill 837, click here.

As we continue to navigate through the second half of the session, many different policy and appropriation initiatives will be considered by the legislature. As the budget process begins, FFBF will work to proactive advocate for funding that will benefit Florida’s farmers and ranchers with FDACS and IFAS. We are looking forward to seeing what the second half brings, and continuing to efforts to advocate on behalf of Florida agriculture.