In this year-end issue of Citrus & Vegetable Magazine, it seems only fitting that we take a look back on FFVA’s efforts on behalf of its members. This is only a small sampling of our activities and accomplishments this past season. To get a closer look, you can view our 2012 Highlights video at https://vimeo.com/48844702.
Subhead: Legislative successes
The 2012 legislative session in Tallahassee was a success for agriculture. Most of FFVA’s priority bills passed, and all of the bills the association opposed died. Despite a very tight budget year, legislators passed a sales tax exemption for electricity used by non-farm packinghouses.
Growers also won an exemption from limits on operation hours for farm vehicle drivers during a state of emergency. Another victory was the general agriculture bill, which keeps local governments from charging stormwater fees on farm operations and allows the use of off-road diesel for citrus harvesting equipment.
With new leadership coming into power in both state chambers this fall, FFVA is committed to working to protect the interests of Florida’s growers. Immigration could rise to the surface again as a major issue.
The association continued its leadership role in the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, a coalition of more than 120 agricultural groups from across the country. With massive federal budget cuts looming, the alliance has worked hard to protect the investment Congress first made in specialty crops in the 2008 Farm Bill.
FFVA and the alliance will continue to urge passage of a bill before year’s end that safeguards the priorities of specialty crops.
Suibhead: Labor Relations Division
An increasing number of Florida growers rely on FFVA's Labor Relations Division to help them access the U.S. Department of Labor’s H-2A guest-worker program.
For the 2011-12 growing season, FFVA filed 34 applications for a total of 4,194 workers as well as numerous transfers and extensions. In addition, FFVA subsidiary company, Florida East Coast Travel Services Inc., provides workforce solutions for farm and non-farm employers.
FLECTS served more than 330 agricultural employers in 18 states in the past year. Between Jan. 1 and July 31, the service processed 2,259 H-2A farmworkers, with another 3,100 scheduled to be processed through the end of 2012.
The association took part in congressional office visits as part of the National Council of Agricultural Employers’ annual meeting in February. The goal of the meetings was to ensure that members of Florida’s congressional delegation remain fully aware of the devastating effect any E-Verify legislation would have on the industry and the economy of the state.