All posts by Rachael Smith

Rooted in Resilience

Welcome to our “Rooted in Resilience” member story page. We celebrate 80 years of grassroots membership by highlighting how our county Farm Bureaus and members are passionate advocates, rooted in their community.

We look forward to sharing different stories of resiliency from our members statewide.

Jim Farley, Farley Cattle Company, Clay County

“You have to be tough enough and love ranching enough to overcome all adversity.  Remain rooted in appreciation for when times are good and plentiful.  Most importantly, love what you do and love your family.” Read Article

John Dooner, Young Farmers and Ranchers State Leadership Group, Gadsden County

“Farmers and ranchers have proven to be resilient throughout the course of time. There is an enormous amount of pressure on our state’s resources as we continue to see thousands of people move to Florida every day. The only way to deal with the unprecedented growth in our state is to recognize the benefits of our Ag land and put a value on them. The population boom is concerning, but I think we can put a positive spin on it and looks at it as an opportunity in agriculture to create value that has not historically existed. As the original stewards of the land, what is more compelling than that?” Read Article 

Danielle Daum, Women’s Leadership Chair, Highlands County

“This year’s theme “Rooted in Resilience” aptly describes Farm Bureau Women. We are resilient in our personal lives as mothers, daughters and sisters as well as in our business and professional lives. Agriculture is lucky to have so many women championing for it.”

Lynn Mills, VCH Ranch, DeSoto County

“From start to finish, the process is a challenge, but it’s so rewarding to see it all come together and know that this work is helping feed people across the country.” Read Article 

Brenda Gayle Land, District 2 Women’s Leadership Chair, Lafayette County

“Farmers give their lives to the land and my faith in God is what has sustained me through adversity over the years. As farmers we have to be adaptable and flexible in this ever-changing and unpredictable lifestyle. Faith is how we do it.” Read Article 

Brandt and Samantha Hendricks, Young Farmers and Ranchers State Leadership Group, Santa Rosa County

“Being involved in production agriculture has a lot of unknowns. We plant the seed and pray every day for it to put roots down and grow.” Read Article 

Anna Jameson, Brite Leaf Citrus Nursery, Sumter County

“You can’t always take without giving back and expect the land to stay healthy and fertile, so for us, it’s very important that we produce our crops in the most sustainable ways possible. We are constantly evolving our efforts to protect natural resources and honor my family’s legacy of farming in Florida.” Read Article

Imogene Yarborough, Yarborough Ranches, Seminole County

“Agriculture and passion go together as far as I’m concerned because you have to think strongly about what makes your living. And agriculture is our living.” Watch Video

Bill Waller, Hurricane Michael Recovery, Bay County

“Sometimes you just have to play the cards that are dealt to you and get through adversity. Once a catastrophe hits, you can’t go back and undo it, you just make the best you can out of it and move forward.” Read Article

Mickey Diamond, JM Diamond Farms, Santa Rosa County

“We all learn from each other and come harvest time, three of us neighbors pool labor and equipment. We can pretty well time it to know whose peanut crop to pick and we get it out in a hurry.” Read Article

State Representative Josie Tomkow

“I am committed to supporting farmers and ranchers to make sure their voices are heard. I grew up working cows with my dad. I am proud of my Ag background and how it has shaped me into who I am today.” Read Article

Paul Orsenigo,  Orsenigo Farms, Western Palm Beach County

“There were tribulations, highs and lows, and good and bad times, but by the mid-1990s, we’d established a thriving sugarcane operation. Through the year’s we’ve come to appreciate the importance of diversification because it’s just so unpredictable.” Read Article

Steve Singleton, Singleton & Sons Farms, St. Johns County

“My dad was driven in a way that most people aren’t–he just didn’t know how to give up-and thanks to that drive and his positive outlook, he beat the odds and was successful. It’s an honor to continue building upon his legacy.” Read Article

Jacob Wangle, Young Farmers & Ranchers State Leadership Group, District 1

“For me, rooted in resilience means that no matter what situations or circumstances arise, agriculture in the state of Florida will always be standing strong at the end of the day.” Read Article


Why should I give?

Florida FarmPAC has historically raised all of its funding through a voluntary $2 contribution on a member’s annual membership renewal. These contributions have allowed Florida Farm Bureau to support many pro-agriculture candidates at significant levels.

As Florida’s population continues to grow and more and more legislators reside in urban areas, it’s more important than ever, that Florida Farm Bureau have a strong impact on legislative elections. A well-funded FarmPAC helps us to elect candidates who support agriculture and will influence policy.

As a member of our PAC Roots Team you are able to help elect candidates who care about keeping Florida agriculture strong.

Click here to become a member of the FarmPAC Roots Team.

Give Now

Florida FarmPAC provides members the flexibility of making monthly, annual or on-time contributions to support Florida agriculture. FarmPAC accepts corporate or personal contributions.

Florida Farm Bureau Inaugural Ag Day Celebration Draws Thousands of Fans

FloridAgriculture September eNewsletter 2021

Florida Farm Bureau Federation celebrated Florida agriculture and football with two  premier Ag Day events at the Sept. 4 University of Florida vs. Florida Atlantic University season opener football game and the Florida State University vs. Louisville game on Saturday, Sept. 25.

The Home Field AGvantage  provided both Gator®  and Seminole® fans an interactive agricultural experience; highlighting different products grown around the Sunshine State and fun farm facts through an interactive farm tour. The tour spotlighted top commodities grown in Florida and the farmers and ranchers who work tirelessly to give Floridians the Home Field AGvantage when it comes to buying fresh fruit, vegetables, milk and meat year-round.

“This was a great opportunity for our organization to promote Florida agriculture to alumni, students and families,” said Florida Farm Bureau President John L. Hoblick. “We had more than 3,000 fans collectively visit the Home Field AGvantage tailgate tents.”

The Ag Day celebrations continued during both games with on-field recognitions for the 2021 Florida Farmer of the Year, Rep. Rick Roth, a vegetable farmer from South Florida and two CARES farm families, Meghan and Brad Austin, 2nd generation dairy farmers from Jackson County and Buck and NoraBeth Carpenter, 6th generation farmers from Madison County.

A tribute video to farmers and ranchers also played on the Jumbotron pre-game and at half time.  Fans were encouraged to participate in a social wall using the hashtag #MyAgExperience.

The Home Field Agvantage website provides fans additional opportunities to learn about agriculture and a chance to register for an ultimate game day tailgate package with tickets.

To view photos from both events, visit:

Young Farmers and Ranchers Name State Competition Finalists

August FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Finalists of the state’s top young farmer competitive events were announced at the Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Conference July 9-11, 2021. The finalists will advance to Florida Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in October where they will compete for the state title.

Discussion Meet: Sydney Armstrong (Jackson County), Buck Carpenter (Madison County), Dallas Hull (Volusia County) and Erin Jones (Gilchrist County)

Excellence in Agriculture: K’Leigh Combs (Duval County), Matt and Kayla Gonzales (Levy County) and Scarlett Jackson (Polk County)

Achievement in Agriculture: Kevin and Shelby Lussier (Alachua County), Clay and Kari Fulford (Jefferson County) and David Koning (Pinellas County)

Putnam/St. Johns County Farm Bureau President Chance Clay

August 2021 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Tell me about yourself-county and family-How did you get involved in agriculture?

I am 34 years old, born and raised in Palatka, Florida. I am a 7th generation rancher and I have 2 daughters. My operations consist of cow/calf stocker operation, timber, and a commercial blueberry farm.

I learned to love agriculture at a young age and followed what suit with what my family did. I was fortunate enough to step into a management role. I hope to continue and grow and hopefully set it up for my two daughters, the 8th generation, to have a very successful operation if they choose.

If you farm currently, what crop?

Timber and blueberries

What is your favorite thing about being involved in Farm Bureau?

Farm Bureau is special because of the cross section of different commodities involved. When you attend an annual meeting or a conference you have everybody from aquaculture to beekeepers, it is neat to get to meet and get to know everybody involved in all different commodities.

Is there a Farm Bureau/Ag event that takes place in your county that you participate in or are proud of?

Our YF&R chapter was involved with the districtwide “Meals of Hope” and recently packed 51,000 meals. Our Annual Meeting is really good and we always have a great guest speaker and a big turnout. Overall, I am proud of our board’s involvement with the County and the kids. We are always trying to give back to the students who want to pursue an agricultural career or degree with a scholarship program.

How are you “Cultivating Tomorrow” within your community?

We really try to reach out to future generations by letting them know who Farm Bureau is. I feel that every new generation becomes more and more removed from the farm. St. Johns County does not have an agricultural program in the schools. We are working together to help bring a spotlight on agricultural education in the school system.

Land Grant Partner: J Scott Angle

August 2021 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

By J. Scott Angle

After 25 years, do you keep chasing a dream? Collier County Farm Bureau President Matt Stephenson-Smith does.

Stephenson-Smith entered the University of Florida as a 24-year-old transfer in 1994. Decades later, he found himself still taking undergraduate courses, spending evenings after work staring into a computer screen feeling like his eyes were about to bleed.

At least two people never gave up on his dream. One, of course, was Stephenson-Smith himself. The second was UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Dean Elaine Turner. She knows that being in the opportunity business—helping students achieve their goals, their dreams—sometimes means being in the business of second or third opportunities.

As much as Stephenson-Smith wanted a degree, he also wanted a career in agriculture. Career leapfrogged ahead with a job offer in 1996. A grower in Southwest Florida gave him 36 hours to decide—Gainesville or Naples, degree or job.

Stephenson-Smith packed the car and drove south. Even as he succeeded in business, he felt he had unfinished business. The dream. He couldn’t see it as clearly as before, couldn’t figure out how to make the time, how to get back to Gainesville, and how to make the case for readmission with a checkered transcript.

About 10 years ago, Turner, then the associate dean, helped him see the path back. It’s called “Fresh Start.” It’s a readmission opportunity under special circumstances that resets the student’s GPA. Turner collected his letters of recommendation and personal statement, mapped out prerequisites he’d need to take in Southwest Florida and cleared him for readmission.

When it came time to move to Gainesville, again, it wasn’t the right time. He was fresh off a divorce and wanted to stay near his two sons in Collier County.

That was where things stood until about six years ago, when Turner came to Immokalee to attend an event at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Southwest Florida Research and Education Center.

Turner recognized Stephenson-Smith across a crowded auditorium and asked for an academic progress report. By Stephenson-Smith’s telling, in that auditorium encounter Turner was academic adviser, psychologist, and motivational speaker. She encouraged him to enroll in UF Online.

It was the nudge he needed. He enrolled, with a major in environmental management in agriculture and natural resources.

By this time, it wasn’t about his career. But it was still about family. He wanted his sons to see him take care of unfinished business, to realize a dream.

That dream, shrouded in fog at times, became so clear that it included a summa cum laude designation, and he earned the grades for it. It required a written thesis, though, and that was a challenge given his work, family and other academic responsibilities.

Again, Turner and CALS administrators helped him find a way. Three months before graduation, after extensive self-study, Stephenson-Smith passed the certified crop adviser exam. CALS administrators advised him to convert those hours of preparation into a written thesis. He titled it “Certified Crop Adviser Exam Preparation.”

Turner approved it. Stephenson-Smith was ready to come to Gainesville in spring 2020 to walk in a commencement ceremony as an honors graduate. COVID-19 shut down in-person ceremonies, of course.

Turner’s philosophy is that there are many different paths to a degree. Some paths start through traditional freshman admission, some through transfers and others through re-entry. Turner says, it’s her job to help students find the path (or Stephenson Smith’s case, the paths) to get them to their goals. That includes a path across the stage. This past spring, the 2020 graduates were invited to Gainesville for the ceremony, and Stephenson-Smith came with his parents and his sons.

The diploma is the epilogue of a story of inspiring persistence that likely makes him an effective Farm Bureau leader. And it has the signature of a dean who helped make it happen, to find the path, to achieve a dream.

Scott Angle is the University of Florida’s Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and leader of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).

Cultivating Tomorrow: Hardee County Farm Bureau President Steve Johnson

July 2021 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Hardee County Farm Bureau President Steve Johnson is a fourth generation farmer from Wauchula. He and his wife, Andrea, a fifth generation farmer, live in the same house that Steve grew up in. They have three children, B.J., Emma Jane and Laney.

Steve and Andrea produce beef cattle, citrus and custom harvesting  in Hardee and Manatee Counties under Treeair Cattle Company and Johnson Harvesting, Inc.

This December will mark two years that Johnson has served as president of Hardee County Farm Bureau, though his involvement in Farm Bureau goes back to 2002. “Andy Neuhofer is the District Field Representative for our area and he was the one that encouraged me to join,” said Johnson.

“Over the years I have served on the county board of directors, as secretary and as vice president,” he added.

In addition, Johnson has dedicated 14 years to serving on the Florida Farm Bureau State Board of Directors where he currently sits as vice president.

Johnson explained that it’s the people in Farm Bureau that you come to know that make it special. “It’s nice to get to know like-minded folks, people you can depend on for life,” he said.

Each year, in November, Hardee County Farm Bureau holds the annual Ag Fest. The event has been held at the Hardee County Cattleman’s Arena in Wauchula. It is an opportunity for elementary school students to learn about agriculture first-hand from local farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers and wildlife specialists.

“We have been doing this event for over 20 years,” Johnson mentioned. “We bring in roughly 400 4th graders, feed them and teach them over about a 6-7 hour period about local agriculture through 20 different stations from milking cows, citrus,  hay production, row crop production and even the phosphate miners come in to present.”

“Agricultural technology is constantly changing,” he added. “It’s important to have youth understand the changes and adapt to them. It’s possible to grow more on less land and we need to get them excited about agriculture. What they are doing today can make a difference for years to come.”


Area Lawmakers Recognized for Legislative Leadership

July 2021 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Each year, Florida Farm Bureau recognizes state legislators who play a significant role in advancing bills that support Florida farms and ranches and advocate for Florida agriculture.

In the 2021 legislative session, the Right to Farm Bill, Florida Farm Bureau’s top priority, passed by overwhelming margins in both the House and the Senate, emphasizing the strong bipartisan support of SB 88, Farming Operations.

Florida Farm Bureau is recognizing the House and Senate sponsors of the Right to Farm Bill as its 2021 Legislators of the Year. Fourteen other members of the legislature will also be recognized as Champions for Agriculture because of their efforts to support specific aspects of the organization’s legislative agenda.

Legislators of the Year

Sen. Jason Brodeur and Rep. Jayer Williamson provided profound leadership by sponsoring the Right to Farm Bill that modernizes Florida’s Right to Farm Act, protecting farmers and ranchers from nuisance lawsuits. SB 88 is now the strongest Right to Farm legislation in the country.

“This bill is extremely important for Florida farmers and ranchers who are facing a multitude of challenges each day,” said John L. Hoblick, President of Florida Farm Bureau Federation.

“The fact that this potentially controversial bill passed by such wide margins gives credit to the leadership, commitment and hard work of both Sen. Brodeur and Rep. Williamson. I’m honored to recognize them for their support of Florida Farm Bureau’s priority bill this year.”

Champions for Agriculture

Florida Farm Bureau is recognizing 14 additional lawmakers as its 2021 Champions for Agriculture. These policy leaders advocated on issues vital to Florida agriculture.

“There are a lot of moving pieces in the legislative process and in order to be successful as an organization, we rely on legislative champions who sponsor the bills, file the amendments, chair the committees and take the tangible actions that result in a bill being passed,” said Adam Basford, Florida Farm Bureau’s legislative affairs director.

“There are so many legislators that have shown support for Farm Bureau’s priorities, but this is our attempt to thank a few who took specific action this year to get bills across the finish line.”

The following 2021 Champions for Agriculture provided leadership on key agricultural issues that significantly impact farming and the Florida economy:


  • Sen. Ben Albritton
  • Sen. Jason Brodeur
  • Sen. Jim Boyd
  • Sen. Darryl Rouson
  • Senate President Wilton Simpson


  • Rep. Kevin Chambliss
  • Rep. Chuck Clemons
  • Rep. Andrew Learned
  • Rep. Lawrence McClure
  • Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka
  • Rep. Toby Overdorf
  • Rep. Chris Sprowls
  • Rep. Josie Tomkow
  • Rep. Dana Trabulsy
  • Rep. Kaylee Tuck
  • Rep. Jayer Williamson

This is Your FedPAC

October 2021 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Elections have consequences. This is now readily apparent with the current political commentary – tax-and-spend proposals that will cripple family farms if implemented.

That’s why Florida Farm Bureau Federation needs your help. Florida Farm Bureau is the custodian of your federal PAC, which financially backs our pro-agriculture candidates and members of Congress.

About FedPAC

Through the years, FedPAC has supported our champions in the halls of Congress. From Adam Putnam to Alcee Hastings, FedPAC has helped those who have prioritized the Florida farmer and fought for private property rights, fair trade and labor laws, and cutting unneeded red tape. In the 2020 election cycle, FedPAC contributed to 13 of our friends in Congress, Republican and Democrat, totaling over $16,000! As we look toward the 2022 elections, and beyond to the 2023 Farm Bill, we must continue to support our friends through FedPAC – but we need the funds to do so. You have the ability to help in this cause as an active member.

Every election matters, but with razor thin margins currently, the next election will be crucial to preserving the family farm and Florida agriculture. Please consider donating to FedPAC today.

Instructions to Donate: Please write a personal* check to “FedPAC” and mail to the attention of FFBF National Affairs, P.O. Box 147030, Gainesville, FL 32614.

*By law, FedPAC is prohibited from accepting corporate donations.

 FFBF FedPAC is a registered federal political action committee. FFBF FedPAC collects contributions from members to be used for political purposes, including the promotion of good federal government on behalf of all taxpayers, farmers, rural families and agricultural interests of the state of Florida. Contributions to FFBF FedPAC are voluntary and are not a requirement of membership in any county Farm Bureau or the Florida Farm Bureau Federation.

Prior to contributing to the FFBF FedPAC, I am aware: 1) that contributions to the PAC will be used in connection with federal elections and are subject to the prohibitions and limitations of the Federal Election Campaign Act; 2) of my right to refuse to contribute without reprisal; 3) that the guidelines for contributing are merely suggestions. I may contribute more or less than the suggested guidelines or nothing at all and I will not be favored or disadvantaged by reason of the amount of my contribution or my decisions not to contribute; 4) that contributions to the PAC are not deductible for federal income tax purposes; 5) that contributions from government contractors are prohibited; 6) that I must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident Alien to make a contribution.

Federal law prohibits corporate contributions to FFBF FedPAC. The maximum annual contribution for an individual is $5,000. Any ineligible FFBF FedPAC contribution (such as a contribution drawn from a corporate account or a contribution in excess of federal limits) will be returned. Federal law requires us to use best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation and the name of employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year.