The Florida legislative session begins next week, and Florida Farm Bureau (FFB) is ready for a busy session. Adam Basford, FFB legislative affairs director, is gearing up to fight for Florida agriculture.
Every year, FFB has multiple priorities to bring to legislators. For this session, one of the biggest focus points will be on the damage caused by Hurricane Michael, which hit North Florida in October 2018. “Hurricane Michael was an incredibly devastating storm that hit a highly intensive ag area in the state,” Basford explains.
Timber was heavily impacted by the storm, so Basford says FFB will be working hard to help those producers. Timber faces some challenges that other industries do not regarding insurance, so trying to get dollars to the industry is going to be difficult, he says. However, Basford has a couple ideas to help those producers, such as conservation easements and cost-share funding.
Infrastructure was also hit hard by Hurricane Michael. “We have a lot of buildings to rebuild and a lot of miles of fences to rebuild, so a sales-tax exemption or a rebate program would be very helpful in doing that,” Basford says.
He adds that FFB will also be focusing on programs for best management practices and working with Gov. DeSantis and his cabinet on environmental subjects like water quality.
Advocating for funding for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is always an important topic on the docket. FDACS programs like Fresh From Florida and UF/IFAS research work is crucial to Florida agriculture. Basford is hoping to see funding for those programs increased.
Lastly, Basford says it is crucial for producers to get in front of their legislators. “People who have a relationship with you are a lot more inclined to meet with you, take you seriously and help out when necessary,” he says. “So, any time you can build a relationship with your legislator, and then go and reinforce messages in person, that’s incredibly beneficial and something we encourage all our members to do.”
FFB members will have the opportunity to get in front of their legislators next week when FFB hosts its annual legislative days on March 5–6 in Tallahassee.
Hear Basford’s full interview with AgNet Media’s Ernie Neff: