By Clint Thompson
This week’s Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association (FFVA) convention was filled with timely topics and educational insight into how to help the vegetable and specialty crop growers remain sustainable.
Maybe most importantly, though, it was three days of reunion with friends and colleagues within the industry, says Mike Joyner, FFVA President.
“People are just so ready to be back together. This convention has been going for 77 years. I heard someone describe it as the annual family reunion,” Joyner said. “They feel like they’re family. It feels that way.”
This year’s reunion highlighted the various obstacles that continue to threaten farmers’ livelihoods.
Trade remains at the forefront of growers’ minds, as they try to navigate around rising imports, specifically from Mexico. It was amplified following a recent report released by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It outlined the alarming rate that imports have increased over the past two decades and the negative impact it’s had on Florida farmers.
Other issues like climate change, labor and technological innovations were highlighted during the three-day event.
“Florida agriculture’s got a lot of challenges. You’ve got the leaders of this industry (here) at this convention. There is a lot of talk about what can we do to meet those challenges,” Joyner said. “Farmers as you know are just optimistic. It would be easy to get a little bit discouraged. Boy, I don’t hear that right now. Yes, we’ve got challenges with labor and trade and some of the products that we use being taken off the market. But they just wake up and get after it every day.”