Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame Foundation this week inducted four new members into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Florida State Fair in Tampa. Dr. Martha Rhodes Roberts was recognized as the 2017 Woman of the Year in Agriculture.
The Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame honors men and women who have made lasting contributions to agriculture in Florida.
“Thanks to the dedication, service and sacrifice of so many, Florida agriculture is a pillar of our economy and a critical part of our state’s past, present and future,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “It is my privilege to help induct the newest members into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame and permanently recognize their outstanding contributions to Florida agriculture.”
The 2018 inductees are:
Alfonso Fanjul and J. Pepe Fanjul have been an integral part of agriculture in Florida and their communities for more than 50 years. The Fanjul family founded Florida Crystals Corporation in 1960 in Palm Beach County. Alfonso Fanjul serves as Chairman of the Board and CEO of both Fanjul Corp. and Florida Crystals, which farms 190,000 acres in Palm Beach County. Pepe Fanjul is Vice Chairman, Chief Operating Officer and President of the companies. The company owns and operates two sugar mills, a sugar refinery, a rice mill, a packaging and distribution center and the largest biomass renewable power plant in North America.
Joseph Lowell Loadholtz spent a distinguished 33-year career with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences as an Extension service director and agent in Escambia, Brevard and Okeechobee counties. Loadholtz worked throughout his career to ensure that agriculture was top of mind with residents as well as lawmakers in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. He planned more than 100 agriculture informational legislative days, seminars, tours and field days for growers, policymakers and media to showcase agricultural production, water issues and the environment. He wrote more than 1,500 newsletters and publications on farm and home life, and hosted an award-winning daily radio program that aired twice daily for 13 years.
Harold Mikell has lived his entire life in service to agriculture and Florida’s natural resources. Now 91, he has retired from two successful careers: first in forestry, then as a congressional agricultural liaison. Mikell’s interest in forestry took root his senior year in high school when he planted trees on the family property in Trenton, Florida, as an FFA project, and it culminated as the state forester and director of the Florida Forest Service. During his tenure, Florida’s forests grew exponentially. They also grew safer, thanks to Mikell’s visionary efforts in wildfire and prescribed burning. Every county in the state developed a wildfire protection program that included a strong emphasis on prescribed burning. The program was replicated by other forestry organizations across the country. The U.S. Forest Service honored him with its National Bronze Smokey Bear Award for his efforts.
Dr. Martha Rhodes Roberts was honored as the 2017 Woman of the Year in Agriculture. Commissioner Putnam presented the award to Dr. Roberts at the annual Woman of the Year in Agriculture Luncheon held at the Florida State Fair. Since 1985, the “Woman of the Year in Agriculture” award has recognized women in all areas of the industry who have made outstanding contributions to Florida agriculture.
“Florida’s robust agriculture industry would not be as bright as it is today without the dedication and service of individuals such as Dr. Roberts,” said Commissioner Adam H. Putnam. “I’m honored to present Dr. Roberts with the 2017 Woman of the Year in Agriculture award.”
Dr. Roberts dedicated 35 years of service to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, beginning in 1968, where she championed policy changes for the advancement of Florida’s agriculture industry, trade and production practices. She was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture in 1984, and was the first woman in the United States to hold this position. Beginning in 2003, Dr. Roberts served 13 years as Director of Industry Relations and then as Special Assistant for Government Affairs for the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).
Throughout her career, Dr. Roberts served in leadership capacities for numerous organizations that aimed to shape and enhance the agriculture industry. Her contributions to Florida agriculture have been awarded by the FDA, USDA and industry associations, and in 2003, Dr. Roberts was inducted into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame.
The Woman of the Year in Agriculture award is sponsored by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida State Fair Authority. More information about the “Woman of the Year in Agriculture” award and past award winners can be found here.