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The Florida produce industry said goodbye to long-serving President Mike Stuart and welcomed incoming President Mike Joyner at the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association’s annual convention in Naples, FL last week.

Joyner

Joyner’s experience in agricultural and environmental issues runs deep. Most recently, he served as assistant commissioner of agriculture and chief of staff for Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, helping to lead the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for almost eight years.

Before that, Joyner represented clients throughout Florida and the United States before the Florida Legislature and state regulatory agencies. He also served in public affairs and environmental affairs positions for The St. Joe Company and Progress Energy (now Duke Energy) and worked as chief of staff for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

“Mike Joyner is uniquely equipped to lead FFVA into the future,” FFVA Chairman Paul Orsenigo said. “Given his experience and leadership in Florida agriculture, he has a keen grasp of the issues that Florida producers face in growing and marketing their crops. We’re looking forward to having him at the helm of our association.”

“I’m excited to join this association, which I’ve admired for many years,” Joyner said. “The positive influence that FFVA’s advocacy work has had on public policy is impressive. There are challenges ahead for agriculture, which means that advocacy is more important than ever.”

Joyner is a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, food and resource economics. He and his wife, Alicia, have two daughters.

Outgoing FFVA President Mike Stuart will stay on board for a brief transition period before his retirement, Orsenigo said. “Mike Stuart’s tireless efforts and contributions on behalf of specialty crop agriculture in Florida and nationally have been monumental. We’re grateful for his leadership, talents, integrity and coalition stewardship over the years. Our volunteer leaders are committed to providing a smooth succession to new leadership.”

Also at the convention, FFVA presented its Researcher of the Year Award to Dr. Keith Schneider, professor of food science at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Schneider and Wishnatzki

Schneider’s research has focused on improving the quality and safety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Schneider has worked to make sure that good manufacturing practices for produce are based on sound science. His food safety research on pathogen survival and mechanisms to control microbial contamination have been extremely valuable in today’s world of foodborne outbreaks, new federal food safety rules and buyer safety requirements.

“Dr. Schneider is a steadfast leader in the food safety arena—not just in Florida, but throughout the country,” said Gary Wishnatzki of Wish Farms, chairman of FFVA’s research committee. “He’s known for his ability to translate important research into useful and meaningful information for stakeholders.”

2018 Legislators Of The Year

FFVA also named Florida Sen. Kelli Stargel and Rep. Holly Raschein as its Legislators of the Year for 2018.

Stargel (R-Lakeland) sponsored SB 740, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ legislative package, which included several important provisions for agriculture. The bill provides property tax relief for growers who have screen-enclosed structures for protection from pests and diseases. It also allows farms to maintain their green belt assessments for five years on land damaged by natural disasters even if there is no active production on the land. The bill also revises the governor’s authority in declaring an emergency relating to the transportation of agricultural products and truck weight limits.

Raschein (R-Key Largo) sponsored HB 7043, which authorizes the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to assume the administration of the Clean Water Act Section 404 wetlands permitting program. If this authorization is approved by the federal government, it would greatly streamline the permitting process.

Karen and Mike Stuart Humanitarian Award

And the Karen and Mike Stuart Humanitarian Award went to New Hope Charities, a one-stop multifaceted family center providing programs and services to men, women and children living in remote, impoverished communities.

The award recognizes an organization for charitable humanitarian work that improves the community and the lives of its residents. It is named in the honor of the late Karen Stuart and her husband, FFVA President Mike Stuart.

New Hope has been helping to build strong families and improve communities in Western Palm Beach County since 1988. Its nationally accredited education program features a strong curriculum and dedicated staff. It offers mentoring, academic enhancement, literacy skills, family activities and financial education. In addition to providing food for hundreds of needy families, New Hope offers after-school care for elementary school students along with summer camp and special events.

“We’ve always tried to surround the children with positive role models that come from the community, said Guillermo Rivera, director of programs and services for New Hope Charities. “We try to instill in the kids whom we serve a desire to learn and to reach beyond the circumstances that they find themselves in.”

Along with the recognition, FFVA made a $5,000 donation to New Hope Charities.

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