Florida picks dominate federal agriculture advisory panel

The panel will address issues regarding farming and distribution in the American Southeast.

The federal Seasonal and Perishable Agricultural Products Advisory Committee, established by the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the United States Department of Agriculture, will have a distinctly Florida feel.

Of the 11 names rolled out as part of the initial appointments, eight of them are from the ag community in the Sunshine State.

Those include Plant City’s Madison Astin, whose Astin Farms supplies strawberries, blueberries, zucchini and more for national distribution, as it has for a century.

Marie Y. Bedner, co-owner of Bedner Farms in Boynton Beach, is also on board. That company has been known since 1960 for “fresh, locally-grown produce from farm to fork.”

Oviedo’s Tracy Duda Chapman, of A. Duda and Sons, is also being appointed to the committee. The diversified company includes real estate holdings, along with being a “quality grower, shipper and marketer of fresh produce with operations in Florida, California, Arizona, Georgia and Michigan.”

Southern Hill Farms owner David Hill of Clermont is another appointee. The company’s “120-acre family-owned and operated farm includes u-pick and commercially harvested blueberries, strawberries, peaches and seasonal vegetables,” according to its webpage.

Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association President Michael Joyner is yet another pick from Florida’s farming community. He is best known to political watchers as a perennial on the prestigious Florida 500, and as the former Chief of Staff to Adam Putnam when he was Agriculture Commissioner.

Adam Lytch of East Palatka’s L&M Companies also made the cut. His company also has operations in North Carolina.

Two very familiar and well-connected names close out the list, in the form of Florida Strawberry Growers Association Executive Director Kenneth Parker of Plant City, and Florida Farm Bureau President Jeb Smith of Hastings. Like the others here, they are lifers in the industry. Smith’s family farm has been in the cattle trade for more than a century.

Regarding the committee itself, it will “provide advice and recommendations on measures to promote the competitiveness of producers of seasonal and perishable produce in the Southeastern United States” and “offer expertise in areas such as growing and selling seasonal and perishable agricultural products and the needs and market dynamics affecting producers of seasonal and perishable agricultural products in the Southeastern United States.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • ScienceBLVR

    May 30, 2024 at 10:48 am

    Interesting pic accompanying this post. Brings up a few questions and possible topics for the committee to discuss.. do you think the agricultural workers pictured here are thirsty? Hope not.. and migrant workers, what’s the best policy for ensuring they are all God fearing Americans, here legally? Unbelievable, the work they do hour after hour bent over in the heat..Was just in the backyard picking weeds, lasted about 15 minutes..

    • MH/Duuuval

      May 30, 2024 at 11:14 am

      The elderly weed while sitting on a plastic milk crate — and certainly not in the heat of the day. When we need water, or shade, or to pee, we go inside the house. So, no, I cannot even imagine stoop labor. (I am so glad that migrant workers are having some successes at organizing in Florida and just wish established labor unions would weigh in.)

    • Ocean Joe

      May 30, 2024 at 2:55 pm

      Desantis and the Republican (Chamber of Commerce) legislature are the water nazis.
      “No mandatory water breaks for you!”

      Because Christianity demands it.

      • Ocean Joe

        May 30, 2024 at 6:28 pm

        And when somebody needlessly dies of heatstroke, who works where a water break is not permitted as needed, the liability of the employer will be one of those ‘learning’ events like the scalding hot coffee passed out a window to somebody in a moving vehicle.

        Because even reactionary Florida’s tort laws permit it.

        • MH/Duuuval

          May 30, 2024 at 8:44 pm

          Unfortunately there’s not a state court in Florida that would side with the dead ag worker. That’s what controlling the courts will do for entrenched interests, such as those represented on the Seasonal and Perishable Agricultural Products Advisory Committee.

Comments are closed.


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