Florida Farm Bureau names 2013 Legislators of the Year and Champions for Agriculture

June 28, 2013

Florida Farm Bureau names 2013 Legislators of the Year and Champions for Agriculture

Gainesville – Florida Farm Bureau today announced its Legislators of the Year and Champions for Agriculture honorees.

Legislators of the Year

Farm Bureau’s Legislator of the Year award is given to state lawmakers who demonstrate excellent leadership and proactive efforts to advance the interests of Florida’s farmers and ranchers. The recipients will be formally recognized at Florida Farm Bureau’s Annual Meeting in October.

Senator Wilton Simpson

During the 2013 legislative session, Sen. Wilton Simpson was a driving force behind many agricultural priorities. He sponsored two Farm Bureau priority bills that strengthened Florida’s greenbelt law and promoted Everglades restoration and improvement.  Sen. Simpson also utilized his agricultural experience to shepherd through a bill that reduces fire code regulations on many agricultural structures.

“Florida Farm Bureau thanks Sen. Simpson for his continued efforts to promote Florida’s family farms and support priorities important to agriculture in the Florida Senate,” said Florida Farm Bureau President John Hoblick.  “Sen. Simpson’s background in agriculture and dedication to farming make him an extremely effective advocate for agricultural interests in the Florida Senate.”

Representative Holly Merrill Raschein

Rep. Holly Raschein worked diligently to sponsor and pass key agritourism legislation that will help Florida’s family farms start or maintain agritourism operations on their farms.  Her efforts on this bill will help to increase agricultural sustainability and generate additional revenue for farmers.  In addition to her tireless effort to pass this key legislation, Rep. Raschein also co-sponsored a Farm Bureau priority bill eliminating duplicative and burdensome regulations on agricultural lands.

“We sincerely appreciate Rep. Raschein’s hard work and dedication to one of Farm Bureau’s top legislative priorities,” said Hoblick.  “She was a terrific and passionate bill sponsor and we are proud to be able to recognize her as a Legislator of the Year.”

Champions for Agriculture

In addition to naming its Legislators of the Year, Florida Farm Bureau is initiating a new program that will recognize a group of lawmakers as Champions for Agriculture for their role in promoting an agriculture- friendly legislative agenda.  After a productive legislative session where all of its priority bills were passed, Farm Bureau is recognizing 18 Representatives and six Senators who took an active role in supporting the state’s farmers and ranchers.

“In a year where we had so much legislative support, this is our way of highlighting and thanking a group of legislators who showed leadership in promoting strong agricultural policy for Florida,” stated Adam Basford, Director of State Legislative Affairs at Florida Farm Bureau.

“Each of these Champions for Agriculture played key roles in passing legislation that allows agriculture to continue to benefit the state both economically and environmentally.  We are truly grateful for their efforts.”

Farm Bureau’s top priorities in 2013 included strengthening and modernizing Florida’s greenbelt agricultural assessment law, removing barriers to agritourism operators, eliminating duplicative local regulations, providing accurate data in the water supply planning process, promoting Everglades restoration and securing research funding for citrus greening disease.

The Florida Farm Bureau 2013 Champions for Agriculture are:

Florida Senate
Sen. Jeff Brandes
Sen. Greg Evers
Sen. Denise Grimsley
Sen. Alan Hays
Sen. Bill Montford
Sen. Wilton Simpson

Florida House of Representatives

Rep. Ben Albritton
Rep. Halsey Beshears
Rep. Jim Boyd
Rep. Matt Caldwell
Rep. Marti Coley
Rep. Neil Combee
Rep. Steve Crisafulli
Rep. Katie Edwards
Rep. Travis Hutson
Rep. Mike La Rosa
Rep. Debbie Mayfield
Rep. Ray Pilon
Rep. Jake Raburn
Rep. Holly Raschein
Rep. Pat Rooney
Rep. Charlie Van Zant
Rep. Clovis Watson
Rep. Ritch Workman

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Florida Farm Bureau is the Sunshine State’s largest general agricultural organization with more than 147,000 member-families representing Farm Bureaus in 60 counties. Membership provides a multitude of benefits and you don’t have to be a farmer to be a member of Florida Farm Bureau.