Highlands County Farm Bureau President
Jeff Williams was elected as the new Highlands County Farm Bureau (HCFB) President at the county’s annual meeting last fall. He and his family own and operate W A Williams Citrus Nursery, Inc. in Highlands County. The third generation farmer comes from a long line of nursery producers and citrus growers.
“I am homegrown in Avon Park and was born into the citrus business,” Williams said. The business is named after Williams’ late grandfather.
In 1984 citrus canker struck the family operation, and four years later, W A Williams passed away. “He lost his livelihood and we lost him,” Williams recalls. The family endured another tragedy when Williams’ father suffered a stroke.
Williams has carried the torch in the family business for 20 years now. Along with being a full-time citrus nursery producer, Williams is a part-time officer to the Highlands County Sheriff’s Department.
W A Williams Citrus Nursery, Inc. currently runs and oversees two greenhouses, each one measuring 108′ X 34′ and holds approximately ten thousand citrus trees per house.
“In doing so, I was able to continue my grandfather’s legacy by operating under his original license and name, W A Williams Citrus Nursery, Inc.,” Williams mentioned. “This means the world to me.”
Williams has recently diversified into hemp production. “The site has been approved by Commissioner Nikki Fried, we got the license and permit to cultivate and we are excited about this venture,” he said.
Williams has been married to his wife Becky for 27 years. They have two children, a daughter, Alexis, and a son, Joshua. “We are expecting our first grandchild any day now,” Williams said excitedly. His son, Joshua, is finishing up courses to obtain his commercial pilot’s license at just 22 years old.
Williams is following in his father’s footsteps in serving on the Highlands County Farm Bureau Board of Directors. He also serves as a board member on the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association. He expressed his appreciation for both the active board and Highlands County Young Farmers and Ranchers. “I am very proud of them and what they put their sights on,” he said.
Highlands County Farm Bureau supports youth education. They host an annual dinner each spring that honors the local FFA youth who participate in the fair. “We recognize the kids that show in the fair and feed the families,” explained Williams. The students get to network with the local Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee while enjoying a recognition dinner with their families.
HCFB holds an annual Cracker Shoot that welcomes 150 visitors. “We serve breakfast and lunch, promote Farm Bureau and keep relationships up with members,” he said. “It’s a really great time.”
Williams hopes that his son will one day take part in the family business and hopes to leave a legacy of faith to his children. “There is power in prayer and I am proof of it,” he said. He explained that after losing 1,000 acres of citrus groves to greening, he doesn’t feel like he deserves to still be in business. He credits his success to the grace of God.
When asked for his favorite recipe, Williams replied, “There aren’t too many recipes I don’t like. You can’t beat some country fried chicken with corn bread (he credits his wife Becky) and fresh vegetables.” His dessert of choice is peach cobbler.