Conference to Examine Policy Issues Facing Agribusiness Leaders

Clint ThompsonFlorida

This year’s Florida Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference will examine critical policy issues facing agribusiness leaders and provide valuable economic insights to help stakeholders make informed business and policy decisions.

Rob Gilbert, UF interim senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. Courtesy, UF/IFAS.

The conference returns to the University of Florida (UF) Gulf Coast Research and Education Center on April 17, where it was held last year. Those interested in attending can register here to attend the conference, which is hybrid; you can attend in-person or watch via Zoom.

“This conference is a forum for learning from and discussing with national leaders how policy impacts one of the world’s great food producers – Florida,” said Rob Gilbert, UF’s interim senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, leader of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) and one of the speakers. “The Farm Bill, the coming artificial intelligence revolution and the globalization of agriculture make this a key moment for Florida agriculture to engage with public policy.”


Speakers will cover federal and state agricultural policies and how stakeholders can expect to be impacted by recent trends in policy making during the morning sessions. They will also provide insight into U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) science and research strategic priorities, water policy research and damage assessment research, said Suzanne Thornsbury, a UF/IFAS professor of food and resource economics and coordinator of the conference.

Afternoon panel sessions will feature talks centered on disease detection and agricultural labor policy.

Speakers represent state and federal government, industry leaders and growers and researchers. The conference provides opportunities to make valuable connections, learn about the newest research being done to address key issues facing Florida’s agricultural industry and gain a deeper understanding of current agricultural policy and its impact.

Florida Sen. Jay Collins, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, will highlight the work of that committee. The committee is responsible for many issues, including agricultural marketing, economic development and assistance, agricultural emergency preparedness, agricultural water policy, aquaculture, biofuels and more.

Conference Highlights

Here are some highlights from the conference agenda:

9 a.m. – Welcome

9:30 a.m. – State and federal agricultural policy

  • (Jim Spratt, Florida Ag Coalition)

10 a.m. – Jack Rechcigl, director of the GCREC

10:40 a.m. – Agricultural police and research session

  • Deirdra Chester, director, USDA Office of the Chief Scientist.
  • Carole Estes, manager, Facilitating Agricultural Resource Management System (FARMS) program, Southwest Florida Water Management District.
  • Christa Court, UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics.

12 p.m. – Lunch with keynote speaker, Sen. Jay Collins

1:15 p.m. – Disease detection and solutions panel (focus on citrus greening disease)

  • William “Gee” Roe III, fourth-generation citrus grower in Florida.
  • Ute Albrecht, UF/IFAS associate professor, Southwest Florida Research and Education Center.
  • Skyler Simnitt, economist at the USDA Economic Research Service.
  • Derek Farnsworth, UF/IFAS associate professor of food and resource economics.

2:30 p.m. – Agriculture labor policy

  • Kim Morgan, UF/IFAS associate professor, Southwest Florida Research and Education Center.
  • John Walt Boatwright, director of government affairs, American Farm Bureau Federation.
  • Jamie Fussell, director of labor relations, Floria Fruit and Vegetable Association.
  • Nathan Palardy, UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics.

Source: UF/IFAS