The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) started 2015 with a laundry list of topics for discussion. The meeting started with a summation of 2014 which included several FFVA-supported bills that had passed addressing citrus funding and the UF/IFAS budget. Agricultural proponents are still hoping to pass a bill that exempts certain farm related products and services from state sales tax. A positive sign is that there are agriculture supporters in both houses including House Speaker, Steve Crisafulli.
Instead of allocating more money to land acquisition, the FFVA is hoping to have funds put towards improving water problems and family lands protections. There will likely also be topics addressed concerning GMOs, transportation, agri-tourism, and fire code.
The Department Of Agriculture and Consumer Services is requesting roughly $30 million for water related projects concerning springs, Everglades, planning & partnership agreements, and water management. Adam Putnam, the Florida Ag Commissioner, is trying to get funding to research citrus greening (HLB), tree replanting, and trying to keep the disease from spreading.
With the congressional power switching from Democrats to Republicans, the main concern is whether or not both sides can work together to pass vital agricultural legislation. Representatives from University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) have expressed their budget needs and the importance of having bipartisan support. They also expressed the imperative need to continue research toward improvement to food nutrition, crop protection, and better varieties.
The University of Florida agricultural leaders are asking for over $5 million to be spent on updating lab equipment, increased staffing, and additional research.