Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame Foundation announced the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame inductees for 2021. The induction ceremony will be held at the Florida State Fair’s Agricultural Hall of Fame Banquet on February 16, 2021.
“Florida agriculture is at the core of our state’s rich cultural history, impacting the lives of millions of Floridians each day. It’s a great honor to recognize the achievements and the global impact our 2021 Agricultural Hall of Fame inductees have had on this industry and fair-trade practices,” said Commissioner Fried. “Their commitment proudly exemplifies the best of Florida agriculture, and their leadership paves the way for thousands of growers, ranchers, and educators to cultivate innovative practices and groundbreaking research throughout the nation.”
The 2021 inductees are:
Bobby McKown spent his career championing and defending Florida agriculture and the Florida citrus industry’s health and well-being. Taking the helm of the state’s largest citrus growers association as Executive Vice President/CEO of the Florida Citrus Mutual, McKown led Florida’s citrus industry through a critical period.
Over the course of his career, he earned a reputation as an expert in international trade negotiations and was appointed by five presidential administrations to every trade committee, task force, and advisory position of any influence. He participated in developing four different trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement for Tariff and Trade (GATT). He not only protected Florida citrus growers from unfair trade practices, but he also worked to gain the best results for the state’s agriculture industry.
John Stitt realized early in his career that the agricultural ecosystem in Southwest Florida was vastly different from that in Central Florida and the region around Lake Okeechobee. He saw a great need for research in beef cattle pastures, citrus, and sandland sugarcane production and, through his vision, led to the development of the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee. Today, the center provides cutting-edge research for citrus, vegetables, water quality, soil science, and weed science.
In addition to serving on numerous advisory committees to the Immokalee center, Stitt has been extensively involved in industry organizations, including the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and Florida Farm Bureau. Stitt led the charge to establish the South Florida Agricultural Council, and with the cooperation of the legislative delegation, the council secured $2.39 million in funding for construction. In 1988, the Board of Regents, the UF/IFAS leadership, and the council developed a five-year plan to complete the staff funding. The result was the opening of a fully-funded research center staffed with a director and 12 researchers.
Reggie Brown has had a profound and lasting effect on the tomato industry in Florida and beyond. Brown’s family is well-known in Alachua County for its multigenerational Brown’s Farm and legendary roadside produce stand. After 12 years as a UF/IFAS Extension Service agent in various capacities and a 10-year stint at the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association as marketing and membership director, Brown was named executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Exchange while at the same time leading the Florida Tomato Committee and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange.
As the face of the Florida tomato industry, Brown has led on numerous fronts, including unfair Mexican trade practices, tomato food safety, and the effort to retain the use of methyl bromide as a crop-protection tool and stood at the forefront of fostering fair trade for the tomato industry and resolving trade disputes. He successfully worked to gain consensus among growers, regulators, and other stakeholders to develop statewide food safety standards for Florida fresh market tomatoes. Those efforts became the benchmark for the development of the national produce safety guidance. As chairman of the Crop Protection Coalition, Brown was the voice of the industry nationally and internationally. He served on the delegation to the Montreal Protocol Treaty negotiations for ten years during the phase-out of methyl bromide, a decades-old component of pest management for many Florida crops, vigorously protecting growers’ interests.
Dr. Wayne Smith’s contributions to Florida agriculture encompass his lifelong devotion to education and research and forestry passion. Smith, a native of Marianna, Florida and graduate of the University of Florida, returned to his alma mater in 1964, advancing through the academic ranks as a professor, director, and finally, professor emeritus. In retirement, he served as interim dean for UF/IFAS Research and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. He proved to be a groundbreaking educator, researcher, and administrator.
Smith played a crucial part in developing and implementing the first Best Management Practices (BMPs) for silviculture. BMPs soon spread across Florida’s agricultural industry and changed the face of agriculture. His research in fertilization led to practices that increased pine forest productivity by up to 300%. And his pioneering work in bio-energy made Florida a leader and earned accolades from the U.S. Department of Energy. Smith’s work has been recognized around the globe, including an audience with royalty. He has been a consultant for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, and has been called upon to testify before Congress as a staunch supporter of agriculture.