Statewide Meeting Recognizes Grassroots Volunteers

October 2023

More than 400 grassroots members gathered at the Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando, Oct. 25-27, 2023. Florida Farm Bureau voting delegates re-elected Jeb S. Smith of St. Johns County as the organization’s president.

Jason Watts (third from right) was selected as the 2024 Florida Farmer of the Year. He was joined by his family at the FFBF Annual Meeting.

Voting delegates discussed and approved policy resolutions submitted by county Farm Bureaus throughout the state. The resolutions were adopted as policy for 2024.

The meeting included award and recognition programs to honor outstanding young farmers and ranchers, state lawmakers and the accomplishments of county Farm Bureaus and individual members for their distinguished service to agriculture.

Florida Farm Bureau presented an impressive list of awards at the annual meeting, including:

Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement in Agriculture Award: John and Emilee Peterson (Baker County)

Young Farmer and Rancher Excellence in Agriculture Award: Bernie and Avery LeFils (Volusia County)

Young Farmer and Rancher Discussion Meet Award: Erin Jones (Gilchrist County)

Collegiate Discussion Meet Award: Julia Heijkoop (University of Florida Collegiate Farm Bureau)

Youth Speech Contest Winner: Braley Hines (Gilchrist County)

Newsperson of the Year Award: Kathleen Rasche (Volusia County)

Volunteer Communicator of the Year Award: Jim Strickland (Manatee County)

Excellence in Crop Advising Award: Laine Daum (Highlands County)

Extension Professional of the Year: Dr. David Wright (Levy County)

Legislator of the Year Award: Sen. Jay Collins and Rep. Kaylee Tuck

Distinguished Service Award: Scott Kirouac (Highlands County)

2024 Florida Farmer of the Year: Jason Watts, Florida Best Farms (Polk County)

Team Player Award: Amy Croft (Lafayette County)

Member Benefit Partner of the Year: Grainger 

2023 Outstanding Neighbor Award: Dorrain Sawyer & Jeremy Rolling, Holmes County Farm Bureau; Larry & Pam McArthur, McArthur Company; Lance Medley & Chris Jernigan, Arnold Lumber and Brett Bailey, Bailey Lumber (for Hurricane Relief efforts for Hurricane Idalia)

Commissioner of Agriculture’s Ag-Environmental Leadership Award: Island Grove Wine Company in Alachua County, Rocking K Cattle in Pasco County and Brite Leaf Nursery in Sumter County

Multiple county Farm Bureaus received awards of excellence for achieving top membership and/or sale of fresh products offered by Florida Agricultural Marketing Association, a subsidiary of Florida Farm Bureau.

To view photos from the event, click here.