Florida Farm Bureau Recognizes Top Legislators After Successful Legislative Session

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FloridaCapitalFlorida Farm Bureau’s Board of Directors has named the organization’s 2016 Legislators of the Year and Champions for Agriculture following one of the most productive and successful legislative sessions for agriculture in recent memory. These state lawmakers are being honored for their outstanding work and contributions to Farm Bureau’s legislative agenda and Florida’s family farms.

Farm Bureau’s 2016 Legislators of the Year and Champions for Agriculture carried the torch for a significant portion of our legislative agenda, providing leadership on key bills and issues that will significantly improve and strengthen our agricultural community in Florida.

This year, Florida Farm Bureau will recognize three Legislators of the Year – Sen. Travis Hutson, Rep. Matt Caldwell and Rep. Halsey Beshears – and 20 Champions for Agriculture.

Legislators of the Year
Sen. Travis Hutson

Sen. Travis Hutson was a great advocate on agricultural issues during the 2016 legislative session, sponsoring and helping to pass several bills on Florida Farm Bureau’s legislative agenda, including streamlining and modernizing transportation laws to make it easier for farmers to transport their produce from farm to market. Sen. Hutson also sponsored the general agriculture legislative package, helping to reduce regulations and lower taxes for farmers and ranchers.

“Florida Farm Bureau appreciates Sen. Hutson’s leadership and commitment to Florida agriculture on so many important bills during the 2016 legislative session,” said Adam Basford, director of State Legislative Affairs at Florida Farm Bureau.  “Sen. Hutson was a leader in the Senate for Farm Bureau’s legislative agenda, sponsoring two critical bills and helping to pass a significant amount of pro-agriculture legislation.”

Rep. Matt Caldwell

Rep. Matt Caldwell has been a leader in the Florida House for several years, taking on tough issues and helping to pass good, sound policy that benefits Florida agriculture during the last couple of legislative sessions in Tallahassee.

For the last two years, Rep. Caldwell sponsored the House’s water policy package, establishing a statewide, comprehensive and long-term water policy plan for Florida while ensuring an adequate water supply for agricultural use. After leading this issue for more than two years, this legislation overwhelmingly passed the Legislature and was signed into law early into the 2016 legislative session.

Rep. Caldwell also sponsored a state lands bill that, among other  good provisions, also creates opportunities for farmers to exchange agricultural lands for state-owned lands that can be used for low-impact agriculture.

“I can’t say enough about the leadership and efforts of Rep. Caldwell,” said Basford.  “He is an incredibly important ally and powerful advocate for agriculture in the Florida House. His tremendous work in 2016 and over the last several years on complex and controversial issues such as comprehensive water policy and other important environmental stewardship and pro-agriculture policies is appreciated.”

Rep. Halsey Beshears

With a background in the nursery business, Rep. Halsey Beshears has been a long-term advocate for family farms with hands-on experience with production agriculture. During his time in the Florida House, Rep. Beshears has continued to be a staunch advocate on agricultural issues and a supporter of Florida Farm Bureau’s legislative agenda.

During the 2016 legislative session, Rep. Beshears sponsored one of Florida Farm Bureau’s top legislative priorities–a transportation bill that defines “covered farm vehicles” and exempts farmers from statewide license requirements in an effort to reduce the regulatory burden of transporting farm produce from the fields to the marketplace.

“Rep. Beshears is truly a legislative leader on issues that affect our state’s agricultural producers,” said Basford. “We appreciate his dedication and commitment to Florida agriculture and his unwavering support of Farm Bureau’s legislative agenda, not only in 2016, but during his time in the Florida House.”

Champions for Agriculture

Florida Farm Bureau also honors 20 Champions for Agriculture – lawmakers who go above and beyond to support and promote legislation that positively impacts agriculture. Farm Bureau named seven Senators and 13 Representatives as Champions for Agriculture in 2016.

“Florida Farm Bureau appreciates the commitment of our state lawmakers to Florida’s agricultural producers and sincerely thank them for their role in making the 2016 legislative session one of the best in recent memory for our hard working farmers and ranchers,” said John Hoblick, President of Florida Farm Bureau.

“Each of these Champions for Agriculture played crucial roles in promoting or passing legislation that lowered taxes and reduced regulations on agricultural producers in 2016. We are grateful for their efforts that allow farm families to continue to produce food, benefit our state’s economy and conserve natural resources.”

Florida Farm Bureau’s 2016 Champions for Agriculture are:

Florida Senate
Sen. Charlie Dean
Sen. Bill Galvano
Sen. Alan Hays
Sen. Travis Hutson
Sen. Bill Montford
Sen. Wilton Simpson
Sen. Kelli Stargel

Florida House of Representatives
Speaker Steve Crisafulli
Rep. Ben Albritton
Rep. Halsey Beshears
Rep. Jim Boyd
Rep. Matt Caldwell
Rep. Neil Combee
Rep. Brad Drake
Rep. Katie Edwards
Rep. Tom Goodson
Rep. Debbie Mayfield
Rep. Jake Raburn
Rep. Charlie Van Zant
Rep. Clovis Watson, Jr.