Farm Bureau Talks Trade, Ag Innovation with British Consulate Officials

November 2021 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

North Florida farms hosted international visitors in mid-October as a part of an introductory tour of the agriculture in the area. Officials from the British Consulate in Atlanta – Deputy Consul General Colin Gray and Senior Trade Advisor Ryan Perez – swung through rural north Florida to learn more about the regional agriculture. Florida Farm Bureau staff, in close collaboration with its members, showcased diverse flavors throughout the state’s rural landscape.

Tommy and Teresa Black graciously kicked off the stopover with a walk through their 14-acre satsuma grove in Hamilton County. The cold hardy citrus has attracted increased interest in recent years among producers in north Florida. At just over three years of age, the fresh fruit grove is not at full production potential, but Tommy estimated 6 million pounds of cold hardy citrus production this year alone in the state’s northern part. Tommy shared the typical struggles that accompany farming in Florida, along with the added risk of pursuing a new take on Florida’s iconic citrus industry. A partnership with Florida Georgia Citrus holds promise for the successful marketing and industry growth of this relatively new endeavor and for growers like Tommy. Fresh satsumas and cold satsuma juice awaited our visitors after the grove tour. Tailgate talk of family, farming, and the UK-US trading relationship ensued.

A delicious meal celebrating Jacksonville’s agricultural heritage awaited the group at Cowford Chophouse later that evening. Local Farm Bureau leaders joined Colin and Ryan and Farm Bureau staff to discuss the state of Florida agriculture, its challenges and its opportunities, and ways in which our farmers and U.K. consumers can partner in the long term. How we overcome these challenges and harness opportunities in the context of international trading relationships sparked intriguing dinner conversation over flawless, Florida-inspired cuisine.

The next morning in Hilliard, Traders Hill Farm opened its doors for a presentation and walking tour of its innovative aquaponics facility. Their primary product is leafy greens – Romaine and specialty lettuces – fed by a nutrient-rich water circulation system sustained by farm-raised tilapia. Throughout the morning’s discussion, Tracy Navarro, President/CEO, shared the farm’s values of sustainability, local marketing, and meaningful partnerships with multigenerational family farms, many of whom are Florida Farm Bureau members including our friends at Florida Georgia Citrus. Many of these values align closely with the production and quality standards sought by the United Kingdom.

Though brief, the visit captured the ingenuity and resilience of Florida agriculture, and the possibilities fostered by global relationships for mutual benefit.

We are thankful to Colin and Ryan for choosing to spend some time with Florida producers, as well as to our members for opening their farms to our guests.