Push for Florida blueberry marketing order continues

11/01/2011 05:35:00 PM
Chris Koger

Wayne Glover (left), partner with Alpha Growers LLC, Plant City, Fla., talks with Bill Braswell, president of the Florida Blueberry Growers Association and president of Polkdale Farms, Auburndale, Fla., and Patty Mudge, owner of Patty’s Patch at Mudge Ranch, LaBelle, Fla., during a Nov. 1 meeting that featured discussions on labor and growers funding promotions.PLANT CITY, Fla. — Some Florida blueberry growers are trying to persuade the industry to fund promotions.

While an effort to begin a growers exchange remains stalled, one of the leaders in the push again made his case during a Nov. 1 Florida Blueberry Growers Association meeting.

Association president Bill Braswell, president of Polkdale Farms, Auburndale, said Florida growers need to communicate better with berry marketers and educate them on supplies during the deal’s short five-week spring window.

He said he plans to meet with some of the state’s larger growers next month to discuss the funding effort.

“We think it’s time Florida growers start assessing themselves to better promote for themselves,” Braswell said. “We had a couple of days in April last year when we hit 1 million pounds a day. The fruit starts backing up during Easter weekend. It just doesn’t have a home.

“With too much fruit, everyone sees their prices drop,” he said. “This will only be better for us in getting our fruit out the door.”

Discussing labor issues facing Florida’s blueberry industry, Adam Basford, of the Florida Farm Bureau Federation, said labor will remain a Farm Bureau focus if Congress fails to enact reform.

“In Washington D.C, people really think they know what they’re talking about but they don’t ... You folks know about the issues and what it takes to get a workforce to get the job done,” said Basford, of the bureau’s agricultural policy and national affairs division. “Those in Congress don’t.”

Basford urged growers to contact their elected representatives to explain growers’ labor challenges.

More than 500 growers attended the blueberry meeting.



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