All posts by Rachael Smith

County Farm Bureau Grant Program

Florida Farm Bureau recently distributed county grant funds to County Farm Bureau offices statewide. The purpose of this program is for our County Farm Bureaus to utilize the funds with our 501 (C)(5), The Betterment of Agriculture, our principle and purpose of the organization, in mind. A cross-divisional staff team presented eight program ideas for County Farm Bureaus to consider.  Our hope is that these programs are tailored to meet the needs of County Farm Bureaus and spark creative ideas that can be shared.

County Grant Program Launch via Zoom

State Legislative Election Recap

The 2020 Election results are extremely positive for Florida Farm Bureau with 100% of FarmPAC supported candidates winning in the general election.  As far as we know, this is the first time this has ever happened.  FarmPAC supported 73 candidates, and every one of them will be serving in the legislature in 2021.

In the Senate, FarmPAC supported eight Republicans and three Democrats.  In the House, FarmPAC supported 54 Republicans and eight Democrats.

It was also a strong night for the Republican Party as they expanded their majority in the House and depending on the results of a recount in SD 37 they may have picked up a seat in the Senate.

The only negative from the night is the fact that Constitutional Amendment 2 passed by a small margin and will increase Florida’s minimum wage to $15/hr by 2026.

Voter Turnout

Vote By Mail—4.7 million ballots were cast by mail this election, nearly half of which were cast by Democrats. They made up 45% of Florida’s VBM total while Republicans made up 31%.  Raw VBM totals for both parties were record highs this year.

Early Voting—4.3 million ballots were cast in Florida during the early vote period. Early voting served as an inverse of vote by mail with Republicans making up 45% of the total and Democrats making up 32%. Between VBM and early voting, the Democrats had cast 115K more ballots than their Republican counterparts heading into Election Day.

Election Day—Republicans stormed to an early lead on Election Day and never let up. They quickly erased the advantage Democrats accumulated through the early voting period and ended up casting over 839,000 ballots on Election Day alone.

Republicans made up just under 50% of the ballots cast on Election Day.

Unaffiliated voters cast more ballots than Democrats on Election Day.

The Republican Party received a resounding boost from Miami-Dade County. Initial tabulations from VBM and early voting only showed a nine-point lead for Joe Biden in a county that Hillary Clinton won by nearly 30 points.

The Democratic Party’s emphasis on mail-in voting resulted in historic returns, but those high numbers early on inadvertently masked a low turnout on Election Day.


Republicans have likely expanded their majority in the Florida Senate. Going into the election, the Republicans had a 23-17 majority with two highly contested toss-up races.  In SD 9 & SD 39 Democrats were expected to challenge Republican held seats but failed.

In SD 9, Republican Jason Brodeur narrowly defeated Democrat Patricia Sigman.  In SD 39 Republican Ana Maria Rodriguez resoundingly defeated Democrat Javier Fernandez by 13 points.   Both of these were FarmPAC supported candidates.

Republicans may also have upset a Democrat incumbent in SD 37.  Democratic Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez is currently trailing Republican challenger Ileana Garcia by 21 votes.  This race is headed to a recount.

Democrat Loranne Ausley is a FarmPAC supported candidate who was able to fend off a strong challenge in North Florida’s 3rd District.

Depending on the results of the recount in SD 37, the Republicans, under the leadership of President Wilton Simpson will have either a 23-17 or 24-16 advantage.


Republicans expanded their majority in the Florida House by flipping 5 seats held by Democrats. The makeup is now 78-42 in their favor.  Out of 12 “toss-up” seats, Republicans won 10 of them, unseating 3 Democratic incumbents in the process.

Below are some of the highlights from FarmPAC supported candidates

  • HD 21 – Incumbent Agriculture Committee Chair, Chuck Clemons-R has defeated Kayser Enneking-D by a narrow 2-point margin.
  • HD 26 – Incumbent Elizabeth Fetterhoff-R has once again defeated Patrick Henry-D in HD 26.
  • HD 29 – Incumbent Scott Plakon-R has held his seat with a 4-point victory over Tracey Kagan-D.
  • HD 31—Farmer, Keith Truenow-R cruised to victory over Crissy Stile-D.
  • HD 42—Fred Hawkins-R won a close race in Osceola and Polk Counties.
  • HD 59 –Andrew Learned-D achieved a close win and has kept this seat in the hands of the Democratic Party.
  • HD 81—Kelly Skidmore-D will once again represent Western Palm Beach County after a strong win.
  • HD 84 – Republican Dana Trabulsy-R has upset incumbent Delores Hogan Johnson by 6 points.
  • HD 85—Florida’s Farmer of the Year Rick Roth-R resoundingly pushed back a strong challenge with a 57-43 victory.
  • HD 105 – Republican David Borrero has won this open contest over Democrat Maureen Porras.
  • HD 120 – Republican Jim Mooney has won this open contest over Democrat Clint Barras.


While Florida FarmPAC supported candidates went 73-0 on legislative races, the results of the Constitutional Amendments were not so favorable.  FFBF opposed Amendment 2, a measure that increases Florida’s minimum wage to $15. This amendment narrowly crossed the 60% threshold.  Farm Bureau also took a position on Amendment 4, supporting it because it makes the Constitutional Amendment process more deliberative.  That amendment failed by a wide margin.  FFBF did not take positions on the other Amendments.

  • Amendment 1—Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections
    • Passed-79.3%-20.7%
  • Amendment 2—Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage
    • Passed-60.8%-39.2%
  • Amendment 3—All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet
    • Failed-57%-42%
  • Amendment 4—Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments
    • Failed-47.5%-52.4%
  • Amendment 5—Limitations on Homestead Property Tax Assessments; increased portability period to transfer accrued benefit
    • Passed-74.5%-25.5%
  • Amendment 6—Ad Valorem Tax Discount for Spouses of Certain Deceased Veterans Who Had Permanent, Combat-Related Disabilities
    • Passed 89.7%-10.3%

M-Cores Taskforce Update

November FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Florida Farm Bureau Federation was an active participant over the past year on the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) Southwest Florida Task Force, the Northern Turnpike Task Force, and the Suncoast Task Force.  All three task forces concluded in mid-October with reports submitted to the Governor, Senate President, and Speaker of the House.

There were a lot of public misconceptions throughout the process because the task forces did not decide ‘yea or nay’ IF toll roads will be built.  Nor did the task forces decide where a toll road will be built in the future as each task force focused on a region as a whole.

The task forces did provide a long list of Guiding Principles for future road rehabilitation or construction looking at community/county priorities for roads and other services such as water, sewer and broadband.  The task forces also considered landowner and agriculture’s needs for efficient roadways but also concern about urban sprawl, dividing farm parcels, and ease of Ag machinery movement on local roadways.  Finally, conservation was a key element in all of the task force discussions.

A key takeaway from all of the task force reports is to utilize current infrastructure as much as possible into the future.  Current corridors such as US 19 and 98 in the big bend or US 17 and 27 in southwest Florida should be extensively considered for improvement before creating a new road.

There is more to come as a result of the M-CORES legislation and our members should stay involved in the process as the Florida Department of Transportation receives guidance from the Governor’s office and legislators on any next steps.

Florida Young Farmers and Ranchers Advance to National Awards

November FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

The Florida Farm Bureau announced the state winners for the Young Farmers and Ranchers State Competitions on Oct. 22 at its Virtual Annual Meeting. The following winners of the Achievement in Agriculture, Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture competitions will advance to the AFBF competitions where they will compete against the best of the best from each state Farm Bureau.

-Michael and Brooke Hill of Lake County (Achievement in Agriculture)
-Matt Griffin of Lake County (Excellence in Agriculture)
-Tyler Pittman of Alachua County (Discussion Meet)

All competitors will be eligible for the following prizes from American Farm Bureau and competition national sponsors:

Winner (First Place): a new Ford vehicle (up to a value of $35,000) and paid registration to the Farm Bureau FUSION Conference, courtesy of Ford.

Runner-up (Second Place) receives: Case IH Farmall 50A tractor, courtesy of Case IH.

Third Place receives: Case IH 40” Combination Roll Cabinet & Top Chest and $500 Case IH parts card, courtesy of Case IH, a $2,500 Investing in Your Future cash prize, courtesy of American Farm Bureau Insurance Services, Inc. (AFBIS) plus $1,850 worth of Stanley Black & Decker merchandise (PROTO, DeWalt, Stanley, Lenox & Irwin), courtesy of Stanley Black & Decker.

Fourth Place receives: Case IH 40” Combination Roll Cabinet & Top Chest and a $500 Case IH parts card, courtesy of Case IH.

Your Land Grant Partner

November FloridAgriculture eNewseltter

By J. Scott Angle

Danielle Sprague was a bit scared, she said, when she reported to Jefferson County in 2018 as the new UF/IFAS Extension agriculture agent. She worried that farmers might not immediately accept someone fresh out of school, female, and not from a farm family.

What worried her more than her age, gender and family was that she wasn’t from there.

Jefferson County Farm Bureau President Ernest Fulford said he remembers everything except for the scared and worried part. What he remembers is a new agent asking, “What can I do for you?” and a question he hadn’t heard for some time: “Can I come to the Farm Bureau meetings?”

Danielle attends every month. She’s also at the Farm Credit of Northwest Florida events Ernest is involved in as a board member. She’s at the Jefferson County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee meetings, led by Ernest’s wife, Sarah. She goes to at Young Farmer & Rancher events that Ernest’s son, Clay, participates in at the county and state level.

Danielle was also at the Florida Farm Bureau Federation’s virtual annual meeting in late October. She didn’t have to invite herself to that. She was there to be honored as Extension Professional of the Year. Previous winners had decades of service. We’re proud to have Danielle on the UF/IFAS Extension team.

Ernest nominated Danielle in her third year on the job. He wrote in the nomination, “Danielle filled the void we didn’t even know we had!” She helped start a Farm to Table 4-H camp in the county, revitalize a local Young Farmers & Ranchers committee and recruited volunteer board members to restart a local cattlemen’s association. She cooperates with Jefferson County Farm Bureau on fundraising, reads to youth in classrooms on Ag Literacy Day, helps organize farm tours, and collects peanut butter for the UF/IFAS Peanut Butter Challenge, all in addition to her educational Extension programming.

Ernest runs into Danielle at Carrie Ann & County, a local restaurant in downtown Monticello, when they’re both hungry. Sprague even helps with the harvest, visiting Fulford’s farm to help weigh and record. She’s become a family friend.

Ernest believes Danielle may know every grower in Jefferson County. Even in a county with a single blinking red light, that takes some leg work. Danielle has fit in so well that now the growers are asking all the questions.

If it’s a yes/no question, the answer is yes. Like last year, when Mack Glass asked Sprague if she’d start a newsletter for the fledgling Cold Hardy Citrus Association. “When Mack Glass calls and asks me to do something, you can bet I do it,” Danielle says.

If it’s a high stakes question—like what is this insect in my field and do I need to worry about it?–she can be trusted. When it’s an arcane question like digging speed versus yield, she’ll answer that she doesn’t know but she’ll find out. And she does.

Ernest had some time to talk about Danielle while harvesting last month, especially since he was running the digger a lot slower than he customarily does. He had asked Danielle the previous week if increasing digging speed decreases yield. Like with many questions, Sprague didn’t know the answer right away. And like with most questions, it didn’t take her long to find out.

Danielle produced a study that concluded that every mile per hour faster than 2.5 mph that you run a digger, you lose about 200 pounds per acre in yield. So after decades of running the digger faster, Ernest is spending more time in the field harvesting now, going slower to get those bigger yields.

Now the Jefferson County Farm Bureau asks Danielle a question they’d normally ask someone who’s from the area: who to nominate for farm family of the year. Local farmers recognize the value of a good Extension agent is not just in what she knows. It’s in who she knows.

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: County President Spotlight

November FloridAgriculture e-Newsletter

Jared Smith
Flagler County Farm Bureau, District 4

Jared Smith may be the new Flagler County Farm Bureau President but he is certainly not new to the Florida Farm Bureau Family. Smith grew up in Hastings on his family’s sixth generation farm. His father and granddad both served Florida Farm Bureau on the state and local levels.

Upon graduating high school, Smith attended Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College where he graduated with a degree in general diversified agriculture in December 2017. “I graduated on a Thursday and by the following Monday, I was working as assistant farm manager at Greene’s Farms in Bunnell growing cabbage,” he said.

“When I first started I was running the harvest side of the operation,” he said. “I began to branch out and learn every aspect of the farm so I can plug in wherever I am needed.” Smith explained that his job at Greene’s Farms is very diverse.

“Some days I’m on the tractor watching the soil turn, sometimes I help with spraying,” he said. “I’m a plumber, a mechanic and an errand boy. Some days I will stand out there in the field making the decisions on harvest and then some days I just haul cabbage. I enjoy what I do because there is never a year that is exactly the same.”

Smith decided to follow in his family’s footsteps when he joined the Young Farmers and Ranchers Program when he was 19 years old. Smith was elected last month as Flagler County Farm Bureau President during the county’s annual meeting. He one of the youngest president to serve.

Prior to becoming president, he served on the Flagler County Farm Bureau Board of Directors. Smith met his fiancé, Kamryn, a Clay County Young Farmer and Rancher, at the FFB YF&R Conference in Daytona Beach in July of 2019. The two plan to be married next June.

Kamyrn has a strong FFA background and has a goal to be an Ag teacher. Both Kamyrn and Jared’s fathers are pastors and the two share the same lifelong beliefs and interests.

Smith grew up in 4-H where he learned leadership skills that “paved my way to where I am today,” he said. He enjoys working with young people and is passionate about encouraging youth to be involved in agriculture.

He explained that Flagler County Farm Bureau partners with youth organizations such as FFA and 4-H to sponsor projects year-round. Although the county fair was cancelled this year due to COVID-19, Flagler County Farm Bureau was still able to donate funds to the 4-H County Council and those showing livestock.

“I am particularly proud of the food donation we made to help members of our local community get back on their feet during the pandemic,” he said. “My hope is that our relationships with community organizations will only strengthen in the future.”

Smith wants to contribute to “cultivating tomorrow” by spreading the word of the FFB Young Farmers and Ranchers Program. “We are preparing our youth through programs like 4-H and FFA but we are also helping them prepare for their future,” said Smith.

“Sometimes there is an awkward period of time in between graduating from programs like 4-H and FFA and finding our place in the real world and the Young Farmers and Ranchers Program is the perfect place to plant your feet.” Smith plans to encourage participation in Flagler County Farm Bureau and the Young Farmers and Ranchers Program by emphasizing the impact one’s membership has in the grassroots organization.

“To be part of an organization like Farm Bureau where we have a true voice in the Ag industry is rewarding,” he said. “It is nice to have folks in Florida Farm Bureau who you know will advocate on behalf of Florida agriculture.”


2020 Friend of Farm Bureau Awards Announced

November FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Every cycle, American Farm Bureau partners with the states to evaluate and consider members of Congress who have supported our agricultural priorities, through their voting records and other means. The following 13 members of the Florida delegation were designated as Friends of Farm Bureau for the 116th Congress:

Sen. Marco Rubio

Rep. Neal Dunn (FL-02)

Rep. Ted Yoho (FL-03)

Rep. John Rutherford (FL-04)

Rep. Al Lawson (FL-05)

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07)

Rep. Bill Posey (Fl-08)

Rep. Darren Soto (FL-09)

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12)

Rep. Ross Spano (FL-15)

Rep. Vern Buchanan (FL-16)

Rep. Greg Steube (FL-17)

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25)

Florida Farm Bureau looks forward to working with county leaders in the coming weeks to present these awards in person

Perdue Tours Hurricane Sally Damage in Panhandle

October FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, accompanied by Congressman Matt Gaetz, toured the agricultural damage from Hurricane Sally on  September 28 in Santa Rosa county.

Santa Rosa Farm Bureau Board Member Ryan Jenkins toured federal officials through the damage before a town hall with Sec. Perdue and Rep. Gaetz with roughly 60 Florida Farm Bureau members. Questions from producers covered timely delivery of disaster relief, permissible use of pesticides, trade mitigation, and dysfunction in Washington D.C.

In spite of the circumstances, Florida Farm Bureau welcomed the chance to speak directly with Secretary Perdue on the frequent issue of disaster relief, and will continue to engage meaningfully with USDA and the Farm Service Agency to address ongoing challenges.

A special thanks to the Jenkins family for hosting the event on their farm, and to the Florida Peanut Producers’ Association for supplying drinks and peanuts!