All posts by Rachael Smith

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Putnam/St. Johns County Farm Bureau President Chance Clay

August 2021 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Tell me about yourself-county and family-How did you get involved in agriculture?

I am 34 years old, born and raised in Palatka, Florida. I am a 7th generation rancher and I have 2 daughters. My operations consist of cow/calf stocker operation, timber, and a commercial blueberry farm.

I learned to love agriculture at a young age and followed what suit with what my family did. I was fortunate enough to step into a management role. I hope to continue and grow and hopefully set it up for my two daughters, the 8th generation, to have a very successful operation if they choose.

If you farm currently, what crop?

Timber and blueberries

What is your favorite thing about being involved in Farm Bureau?

Farm Bureau is special because of the cross section of different commodities involved. When you attend an annual meeting or a conference you have everybody from aquaculture to beekeepers, it is neat to get to meet and get to know everybody involved in all different commodities.

Is there a Farm Bureau/Ag event that takes place in your county that you participate in or are proud of?

Our YF&R chapter was involved with the districtwide “Meals of Hope” and recently packed 51,000 meals. Our Annual Meeting is really good and we always have a great guest speaker and a big turnout. Overall, I am proud of our board’s involvement with the County and the kids. We are always trying to give back to the students who want to pursue an agricultural career or degree with a scholarship program.

How are you “Cultivating Tomorrow” within your community?

We really try to reach out to future generations by letting them know who Farm Bureau is. I feel that every new generation becomes more and more removed from the farm. St. Johns County does not have an agricultural program in the schools. We are working together to help bring a spotlight on agricultural education in the school system.

Land Grant Partner: J Scott Angle

August 2021 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

By J. Scott Angle
[email protected]

After 25 years, do you keep chasing a dream? Collier County Farm Bureau President Matt Stephenson-Smith does.

Stephenson-Smith entered the University of Florida as a 24-year-old transfer in 1994. Decades later, he found himself still taking undergraduate courses, spending evenings after work staring into a computer screen feeling like his eyes were about to bleed.

At least two people never gave up on his dream. One, of course, was Stephenson-Smith himself. The second was UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Dean Elaine Turner. She knows that being in the opportunity business—helping students achieve their goals, their dreams—sometimes means being in the business of second or third opportunities.

As much as Stephenson-Smith wanted a degree, he also wanted a career in agriculture. Career leapfrogged ahead with a job offer in 1996. A grower in Southwest Florida gave him 36 hours to decide—Gainesville or Naples, degree or job.

Stephenson-Smith packed the car and drove south. Even as he succeeded in business, he felt he had unfinished business. The dream. He couldn’t see it as clearly as before, couldn’t figure out how to make the time, how to get back to Gainesville, and how to make the case for readmission with a checkered transcript.

About 10 years ago, Turner, then the associate dean, helped him see the path back. It’s called “Fresh Start.” It’s a readmission opportunity under special circumstances that resets the student’s GPA. Turner collected his letters of recommendation and personal statement, mapped out prerequisites he’d need to take in Southwest Florida and cleared him for readmission.

When it came time to move to Gainesville, again, it wasn’t the right time. He was fresh off a divorce and wanted to stay near his two sons in Collier County.

That was where things stood until about six years ago, when Turner came to Immokalee to attend an event at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Southwest Florida Research and Education Center.

Turner recognized Stephenson-Smith across a crowded auditorium and asked for an academic progress report. By Stephenson-Smith’s telling, in that auditorium encounter Turner was academic adviser, psychologist, and motivational speaker. She encouraged him to enroll in UF Online.

It was the nudge he needed. He enrolled, with a major in environmental management in agriculture and natural resources.

By this time, it wasn’t about his career. But it was still about family. He wanted his sons to see him take care of unfinished business, to realize a dream.

That dream, shrouded in fog at times, became so clear that it included a summa cum laude designation, and he earned the grades for it. It required a written thesis, though, and that was a challenge given his work, family and other academic responsibilities.

Again, Turner and CALS administrators helped him find a way. Three months before graduation, after extensive self-study, Stephenson-Smith passed the certified crop adviser exam. CALS administrators advised him to convert those hours of preparation into a written thesis. He titled it “Certified Crop Adviser Exam Preparation.”

Turner approved it. Stephenson-Smith was ready to come to Gainesville in spring 2020 to walk in a commencement ceremony as an honors graduate. COVID-19 shut down in-person ceremonies, of course.

Turner’s philosophy is that there are many different paths to a degree. Some paths start through traditional freshman admission, some through transfers and others through re-entry. Turner says, it’s her job to help students find the path (or Stephenson Smith’s case, the paths) to get them to their goals. That includes a path across the stage. This past spring, the 2020 graduates were invited to Gainesville for the ceremony, and Stephenson-Smith came with his parents and his sons.

The diploma is the epilogue of a story of inspiring persistence that likely makes him an effective Farm Bureau leader. And it has the signature of a dean who helped make it happen, to find the path, to achieve a dream.

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

Cultivating Tomorrow: Hardee County Farm Bureau President Steve Johnson

July 2021 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Hardee County Farm Bureau President Steve Johnson is a fourth generation farmer from Wauchula. He and his wife, Andrea, a fifth generation farmer, live in the same house that Steve grew up in. They have three children, B.J., Emma Jane and Laney.

Steve and Andrea produce beef cattle, citrus and custom harvesting  in Hardee and Manatee Counties under Treeair Cattle Company and Johnson Harvesting, Inc.

This December will mark two years that Johnson has served as president of Hardee County Farm Bureau, though his involvement in Farm Bureau goes back to 2002. “Andy Neuhofer is the District Field Representative for our area and he was the one that encouraged me to join,” said Johnson.

“Over the years I have served on the county board of directors, as secretary and as vice president,” he added.

In addition, Johnson has dedicated 14 years to serving on the Florida Farm Bureau State Board of Directors where he currently sits as vice president.

Johnson explained that it’s the people in Farm Bureau that you come to know that make it special. “It’s nice to get to know like-minded folks, people you can depend on for life,” he said.

Each year, in November, Hardee County Farm Bureau holds the annual Ag Fest. The event has been held at the Hardee County Cattleman’s Arena in Wauchula. It is an opportunity for elementary school students to learn about agriculture first-hand from local farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers and wildlife specialists.

“We have been doing this event for over 20 years,” Johnson mentioned. “We bring in roughly 400 4th graders, feed them and teach them over about a 6-7 hour period about local agriculture through 20 different stations from milking cows, citrus,  hay production, row crop production and even the phosphate miners come in to present.”

“Agricultural technology is constantly changing,” he added. “It’s important to have youth understand the changes and adapt to them. It’s possible to grow more on less land and we need to get them excited about agriculture. What they are doing today can make a difference for years to come.”


Area Lawmakers Recognized for Legislative Leadership

July 2021 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Each year, Florida Farm Bureau recognizes state legislators who play a significant role in advancing bills that support Florida farms and ranches and advocate for Florida agriculture.

In the 2021 legislative session, the Right to Farm Bill, Florida Farm Bureau’s top priority, passed by overwhelming margins in both the House and the Senate, emphasizing the strong bipartisan support of SB 88, Farming Operations.

Florida Farm Bureau is recognizing the House and Senate sponsors of the Right to Farm Bill as its 2021 Legislators of the Year. Fourteen other members of the legislature will also be recognized as Champions for Agriculture because of their efforts to support specific aspects of the organization’s legislative agenda.

Legislators of the Year

Sen. Jason Brodeur and Rep. Jayer Williamson provided profound leadership by sponsoring the Right to Farm Bill that modernizes Florida’s Right to Farm Act, protecting farmers and ranchers from nuisance lawsuits. SB 88 is now the strongest Right to Farm legislation in the country.

“This bill is extremely important for Florida farmers and ranchers who are facing a multitude of challenges each day,” said John L. Hoblick, President of Florida Farm Bureau Federation.

“The fact that this potentially controversial bill passed by such wide margins gives credit to the leadership, commitment and hard work of both Sen. Brodeur and Rep. Williamson. I’m honored to recognize them for their support of Florida Farm Bureau’s priority bill this year.”

Champions for Agriculture

Florida Farm Bureau is recognizing 14 additional lawmakers as its 2021 Champions for Agriculture. These policy leaders advocated on issues vital to Florida agriculture.

“There are a lot of moving pieces in the legislative process and in order to be successful as an organization, we rely on legislative champions who sponsor the bills, file the amendments, chair the committees and take the tangible actions that result in a bill being passed,” said Adam Basford, Florida Farm Bureau’s legislative affairs director.

“There are so many legislators that have shown support for Farm Bureau’s priorities, but this is our attempt to thank a few who took specific action this year to get bills across the finish line.”

The following 2021 Champions for Agriculture provided leadership on key agricultural issues that significantly impact farming and the Florida economy:


  • Sen. Ben Albritton
  • Sen. Jason Brodeur
  • Sen. Jim Boyd
  • Sen. Darryl Rouson
  • Senate President Wilton Simpson


  • Rep. Kevin Chambliss
  • Rep. Chuck Clemons
  • Rep. Andrew Learned
  • Rep. Lawrence McClure
  • Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka
  • Rep. Toby Overdorf
  • Rep. Chris Sprowls
  • Rep. Josie Tomkow
  • Rep. Dana Trabulsy
  • Rep. Kaylee Tuck
  • Rep. Jayer Williamson

This is Your FedPAC

October 2021 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Elections have consequences. This is now readily apparent with the current political commentary – tax-and-spend proposals that will cripple family farms if implemented.

That’s why Florida Farm Bureau Federation needs your help. Florida Farm Bureau is the custodian of your federal PAC, which financially backs our pro-agriculture candidates and members of Congress.

About FedPAC

Through the years, FedPAC has supported our champions in the halls of Congress. From Adam Putnam to Alcee Hastings, FedPAC has helped those who have prioritized the Florida farmer and fought for private property rights, fair trade and labor laws, and cutting unneeded red tape. In the 2020 election cycle, FedPAC contributed to 13 of our friends in Congress, Republican and Democrat, totaling over $16,000! As we look toward the 2022 elections, and beyond to the 2023 Farm Bill, we must continue to support our friends through FedPAC – but we need the funds to do so. You have the ability to help in this cause as an active member.

Every election matters, but with razor thin margins currently, the next election will be crucial to preserving the family farm and Florida agriculture. Please consider donating to FedPAC today.

Instructions to Donate: Please write a personal* check to “FedPAC” and mail to the attention of FFBF National Affairs, P.O. Box 147030, Gainesville, FL 32614.

*By law, FedPAC is prohibited from accepting corporate donations.

 FFBF FedPAC is a registered federal political action committee. FFBF FedPAC collects contributions from members to be used for political purposes, including the promotion of good federal government on behalf of all taxpayers, farmers, rural families and agricultural interests of the state of Florida. Contributions to FFBF FedPAC are voluntary and are not a requirement of membership in any county Farm Bureau or the Florida Farm Bureau Federation.

Prior to contributing to the FFBF FedPAC, I am aware: 1) that contributions to the PAC will be used in connection with federal elections and are subject to the prohibitions and limitations of the Federal Election Campaign Act; 2) of my right to refuse to contribute without reprisal; 3) that the guidelines for contributing are merely suggestions. I may contribute more or less than the suggested guidelines or nothing at all and I will not be favored or disadvantaged by reason of the amount of my contribution or my decisions not to contribute; 4) that contributions to the PAC are not deductible for federal income tax purposes; 5) that contributions from government contractors are prohibited; 6) that I must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident Alien to make a contribution.

Federal law prohibits corporate contributions to FFBF FedPAC. The maximum annual contribution for an individual is $5,000. Any ineligible FFBF FedPAC contribution (such as a contribution drawn from a corporate account or a contribution in excess of federal limits) will be returned. Federal law requires us to use best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation and the name of employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year.

Cultivating Tomorrow: Madison County Farm Bureau President Richard Terry

June 2021 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Madison County Farm Bureau President Richard Terry, left, presented the “George Townsend Good Neighbor Award” to Mrs. Deloris Jones at the Madison County Farm Bureau’s Annual Meeting in 2018.

Richard Terry is a Madison County, FL native who has spent his life devoted to agriculture. Terry grew up just outside of Madison, the county seat of Madison County, where he still lives today. He was the middle child of five siblings who were all raised on their family’s farm.

Terry’s parents grew staple crops in the region like tobacco and corn, feed for cattle, raised hogs and cattle for livestock and had a self-sustaining garden that provided the family’s vegetables.

Terry took over his father’s operation in the 1960s and through the years, diversified. He continued to grow tobacco until 2004. In 1967, Terry built two poultry houses and raised boilers for 30 years. Terry explained that in the 1970s, he diversified again and began farming soy beans.

Richard and his wife of nearly 60 years, Edith, are the proud owners of Terry Farms. The couple married on Edith’s birthday when Richard was 18 and Edith was 19 and they have two grown sons, Ernest and Henry.

Today, Terry is slowing down his daily farm operations and says, “I am about two-thirds quit but I am not going to retire until I die.” Terry’s lifetime dedication to agriculture and carrying on the legacy of his family’s farm is a quality to be admired.

The Terrys have been active within Madison County Farm Bureau for nearly 40 years. “Farm Bureau has always been in the front lines of promoting agriculture,” he said. “Meeting people involved in different facets of agriculture has always been one of my favorite things about Farm Bureau.”

Along with serving as a board of directors’ member, Terry has also served on multiple Florida Farm Bureau Advisory Committees since the 1960s. Currently, Terry is a member of the Water/Natural Resources Advisory Committee.

Each year, Madison County Farm Bureau sponsors a first-grade poster contest and a fifth-grade essay contest. Elementary students in the Madison School District are eligible to participate. The top winners are selected by the Florida Farm Bureau State Office Public Relations Department in Gainesville.

The winners receive a cash prize, certificate and are honored at their school’s award banquet.

Cultivating Tomorrow: Alachua County Farm Bureau President Richard Feagle

May 2021 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Richard Feagle was elected as president of Alachua County Farm Bureau in January of 2021 after nearly a decade of serving on the county’s board of directors. Feagle grew up in Crystal River and Archer with his parents. He spent summers working in the watermelon fields in Alachua County, where he developed a love for agriculture.

Today, Feagle and his wife, Cecile, own and operate Simmons Cattle Company in Archer, a  farm they purchased from Cecile’s parents. They have two sons, Justin and Ryan, and five grandchildren.

Feagle’s main business is Archer Automotive, a vehicle repair shop in Archer that specializes in diesel, but is a general repair facility of all makes and models of automobiles.

In the fall of 2019, Alachua County Farm Bureau hosted the Inaugural Food and Agriculture Festival at the Cade Museum in Gainesville. Due to restrictions in place regarding the coronavirus, the 2020 festival was canceled. However, ACFB is excited to host the second annual event on November 20, 2021.

“There were roughly 1,500 people who attended the inaugural event and we had more than 20 vendors,” Feagle said. “The goal of the event is to bring awareness to people of where their food comes from and engaging them on the benefits of locally grown food.”

Every Tuesday morning on WCJB-TV 20, ACFB hosts an Ag Fact segment. “Our Board Secretary, Brittany Lee, does a really great job cultivating an interest to consumers about agriculture,” he mentioned. “There’s always something interesting and new to learn about.”

Meaningful Steps

March 2021 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

By J. Scott Angle
[email protected]

I’m nearly halfway through fulfilling a pledge to visit all 67 UF/IFAS county Extension offices. One way I gauge the effectiveness of an office’s outreach—which is, after all, its mission—is whether I get to meet the county Farm Bureau president.

David Hafner (L) and Dr. Angle

Martin County Farm Bureau President David Hafner offered an important endorsement of our service to stakeholders just by showing up when my road tripping took me to Stuart last month. Then he impressed me more when we got to talk.

He’s concerned about his own operation. Cattle wasn’t working for him, so he’s shifted exclusively to small livestock—poultry, pigs and goats. He talked a lot less about his own operation, though, than yours.

By his own reckoning, Hafner is more advocate than farmer.

Hafner came to meet me at the UF/IFAS Extension Martin County office, and he also made time to hear me via Zoom at the October meeting with the Council of Presidents, because he cares about Florida agriculture and because he cares about UF/IFAS support for it.

That support goes two ways. Like many county presidents, in most years he goes to Tallahassee many years to advocate on behalf of agriculture, and he told me that his elevator pitch when he gets a legislator’s ear is about support for the UF/IFAS budget. Again, he’s choosing service over self-interest.

It won’t put any more money in his pocket, but it could put more in yours. A strong UF/IFAS-Farm Bureau partnership is essential to the greater good of Florida agriculture. That’s not just me and President Hoblick. That’s 67 county Farm Bureau presidents and 67 county Extension directors. Just to see Hafner with UF/IFAS Extension Martin County Director Jennifer Pelham told me they understand this. Hafner’s only been president since October, so they’re still building a relationship. Small first steps are meaningful, like Hafner inviting Pelham to deliver a state of UF/IFAS message at his board meetings.

Hafner in turn serves on Pelham’s Sustainability and Commercial Horticulture Advisory Committee to give stakeholder input into Extension programming. And as if he didn’t do enough volunteering for the good of today’s Florida agriculture, he’s also hard at work on its future serving on the local 4-H Advisory Committee.

4-H is where we connected most deeply, for it is a subject dear to both of us. Hafner grew up in 4-H, so he knows firsthand its impact. It certainly succeeded in creating a Martin County leader.

What Hafner’s loyalty also demonstrates is that you reward us not just with political support, but with the relationships and trust that are essential to the dissemination of science that makes farming more profitable, efficient and sustainable.

I’m pleased to see that Pelham and her team are earning that trust. I want to earn it, too. Reach out to me, even if you’re far from Gainesville. I want to meet you, whether it’s at your farm, at the Florida Farm Bureau annual meeting in October, or at your local Extension office.

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