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GOVERNOR'S TASK FORCE ON THE FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE IN FLORIDA
SUMMARY OF REPORT
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTIONS
AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION
December 17, 1986
GOVERNOR'S TASK FORCE ON THE FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE IN FLORIDA
SUMMARY OF REPORT
The Task Force on the Future of Agriculture in Florida was created by
Governor Bob Graham (Executive Order 85-227, October 28, 1985) and charged
with the responsibility of assessing a wide range of issues and programs
related to Florida agriculture. Items considered by the Task Force include
basic and applied research programs, systems to transfer technological
knowledge to agricultural producers, state actions to improve the competitive
position of Florida agriculture, agricultural finance, and state and federal
policies on land, water, taxation and community development. In accepting
the Governor's charge, Task Force members agreed to base their work on the
following guiding principles:
1. that agriculture in Florida is desirable and should be encouraged,
2. that policies of the state should be within a framework which
recognizes the unique characteristics and requirements of Florida
3. that when policies detrimental to Florida agriculture are enacted,
the detrimental effects should be recognized and policymakers should make it
clear that they are acting with the knowledge of these effects, and
4. that a successful interface between agriculture and urban growth is
critical to the future success of agriculture and to the accomplishment of
state growth management objectives relating to land and water management and
to the quality of life in urban and rural areas of Florida.
With these principles in mind and with their knowledge and expertise in
agriculture, Task Force members reviewed available data and prepared detailed
descriptive information on agricultural production activities in Florida.
Based on this information, Task Force members consider several points to be
critical to assessing the potential impacts of state and local government
policies on agriculture in Florida. These critical points are listed below.
Taken together, they constitute a summary of this report and provide a
framework within which to consider state policy and its impacts on Florida
agriculture. The following section then presents Task Force recommendations
for state policy action.
A Policy Framework
1. Florida agriculture produces products which are sold principally in
national markets with some export. Generally producers are unable to pass
cost increases directly to consumers. Prices in agricultural markets are
determined by the quantities produced by Florida growers and the prices
offered by foreign competition at the same time. The continued success of
Florida agriculture depends on its ability to be competitive in those mar-
2. Florida agriculture is diverse in terms of commodities produced, and
among the fifty states, Florida is a major agricultural state. Over 40 major
commodities are produced in Florida with farm level sales in excess of $4.5
billion annually. Among the fifty states, Florida ranks: ninth in cash
receipts, first in grapefruit, oranges and sugarcane, Second in greenhouse
and nursery products and tomatoes, third in lettuce, fifth in all crops,
sixth in commercial marine landings (1981), seventh in peanuts, ninth in
tobacco and eggs, and thirteenth in dairy products.
3. Florida agriculture is also diverse in terms of farm size. There
are more than 36,000 farms in the state, and most are small or part-time in
nature. Of the 36,352 farms in Florida, 19,771 farms (54 percent) have less
than 50 acres of land and 21,560 farms (69 percent) have annual sales of less
than $10,000. At the other end of the spectrum, Florida has 4,669 farms with
annual sales in excess of $100,000, and these larger farms produce a majority
of the state's agricultural output. This latter group likely represents
full-time commercial farms with policy concerns different from those of
4. Most of Florida agriculture is tropical and sub-tropical in nature
or consists of temperate zone crops which are produced in Florida during the
winter months. Due to the type of crops produced, due to Florida's warm
humid climate, and due to the infertile nature of Florida's soils, crop
production in the state is dependent on adequate supplies of water and on the
use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides to overcome problems
of pests, diseases, and soil infertility.
5. A majority of Florida's agricultural production takes place in the
more populous and more rapidly growing areas of the state. Population growth
brings continued pressures on agriculture in the form of regulatory activity
by state and local governments. These regulations impinge on agricultural
access to and use of land, water and other production inputs. Thus, the
maintenance of a competitive agriculture in Florida is dependent on policies
designed to ensure a successful interface between agriculture and urban
growth while ensuring agricultural access to land and water resources. A
successful interface means the existence of conditions whereby agricultural
and non-agricultural activities can occur simultaneously in the same area and
the orderly transition of land from agricultural to non-agricultural uses
when such change is in the interest of the state and private landowners.
6. Due to continued urban pressures on land and water resources and due
to the difficult nature of agricultural production in Florida, the viability
of Florida agriculture is dependent on continued research and development
programs in the state. This is especially critical due to the unique nature
of Florida agriculture. Many other states are able to draw on research and
development programs in neighboring states, however, Florida agriculture is
dependent to a much larger extent on technology developed in Florida.
7. Agriculture is also important to urban residents in Florida due to
the stream of amenity values associated with agricultural uses of land.
Positive aspects of agricultural land uses include open space in and near
urban areas, wildlife habitat protection, and the protection of aquifer
recharge areas. Thus, the continued success of agriculture is vital to
Florida and to successful growth management efforts in the state.
8. Agriculture is a major user of land in the state, it is a major
source of economic activity in rural areas of the state, and it constitutes
an important way of life for many residents of the state.
In brief, agriculture in Florida is a complex and diverse set of agri-
cultural production and marketing activities which directly or indirectly
benefit a broad range of Florida citizens. Such diversity implies that:
different agricultural activities will be affected in different ways by
various state policies. Task Force recommendations listed in the following
section are offered with the diversity of potential policy impacts in mind.
Specific recommendations are offered with regard to the agricultural and
economic situation in North Florida, and with regard to problems and program
needs in the areas of research and education, marketing, planning and regu-
lation, and finance.
The framework developed and the recommendations offered do not address
the issues of agricultural labor, aquaculture and marine industries, and the
availability of statistical information related to agricultural production
activities in Florida. These items were outside the charge of the Task Force
and were not addressed due to time limitations. However, Task Force members
believe these issues to be vital to agriculture and to the individuals
involved. Aquaculture represents a relatively new and exciting component of
Florida agriculture and should be adequately addressed in future state
efforts. The farm labor issue is important to agricultural producers from
the standpoint of carrying out production activities, and it is equally
important to farm workers who often have few employment opportunities outside
agriculture. Finally, the value of accurate, up-to-date data on which to
base decisions and policy actions cannot be underestimated. Although not
addressed in this report, a complete review of the availability of data for
Florida agriculture should be considered. With these caveats in mind,
specific recommendations follow.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION
Task Force deliberations covered a broad range of problems and issues
related to Florida agriculture and to specific agricultural and development
problems in North Florida. In many cases the Task Force has recommendations
for immediate and specific state policy action. In other cases, due either
to the complexity of the problem or a lack of information on which to base
decisions, Task Force recommendations are limited to the suggestion of items
for further consideration by state policymakers.
The following two sections present Task Force recommendations and
suggestions for further consideration. Within each section, items are
presented separately for North Florida, research and education, marketing,
state planning and regulation, and finance.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION
The Task Force recommends:
(1) That the State Comprehensive Plan be amended and a section on
Economic Development be included. The Comprehensive Plan as passed does not
address economic development specifically, but does address concepts such as
entrepreneurship, training services and employment. However, these issues
are addressed in several different sections of the plan and therefore are not
clustered in an identifiable goal or group of associated policies.
(2) That the state target North Florida as an area to locate business
and employment opportunities that require low infrastructure needs and
sparsely populated areas. These industries provide the most immediate
benefits for the area.
(3) That technical and monetary assistance be made available to rural
North Florida counties that will help them develop initiatives to expand
existing industries and attract new industries where feasible. Technical
assistance would require the involvement of both state agencies and the state
land grant universities. Monetary assistance should be provided by the state
because of the financial constraints in many counties in addition to the fact
that economic development of the area will benefit the state. Additionally,
small counties cannot compete with large counties because of the unequal
(4) That the state direct contracts for projects to rural areas when-
ever the funds are not required to alleviate population or geographic specif-
ic problems in other sections of the state.
(5) That adequate funding for research and extension of research
results be made to the land grant universities. Funding should be made
available to these institutions for production agriculture activities, as
well as demographic, social and entrepreneurial activities that could improve
the economic well-being of individuals in rural Florida.
RESEARCH, EXTENSION AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS
1. That a group be formed with strong producer membership and inter-
agency participation which would meet annually to review state agricultural
research and extension program goals and activities as they relate to the
regulation of Florida agriculture.
2. That a long term plan be prepared for research programs which would
show how to implement recommendations from the recent Board of Regents review
of Food and Agriculture and Natural and Renewable Resources programs and
combine them with research needs identified by the Task Force. The plan
would require a schedule of needed programs and an inventory of existing ones
complete with a proposal for their continuity or termination. The plan will
need a schedule of implementation of new programs, or change of old ones,
with details of needed costs for personnel, space and equipment. There
should be a time schedule and cost estimate so that support for implementa-
tion of the plan could be sought from the Governor's office and legislature.
Preparation of the plan should also consider the adequacy of any present
space and/or equipment formulas which might need revision. It should consid-
er scientist support levels and graduate stipends.
3. The Board of Regents' Review Team recommended an increase in concen-
tration of research attention on problems of the environment and water
quality. Indeed this is part of the IFAS, legislative and Board of Regents
mandate. The Task Force endorses this recommendation and recommends that it
be implemented. It is past the time that Florida's university research
capability should be focused on these problems with the results to be used by
producers, planners and regulators for the benefit of all the people of
Florida. It should be apparent that regulation alone will not solve any
problems. Sound research, conducted rigorously and in a scientific spirit is
the only way these problems can be dealt with. Such a program would require
new funding for the research community which must not be "traded off" against
4. The Task Force is aware that agricultural research is carried out
within the scientific community and must use the same rigorous scientific and
publication methods as are used by other disciplines. The Task Force
recommends that ways be found to ensure that the scientific emphasis on
publication does not interfere with the need for bulletins and other
extension publications written for agricultural producers.
5. The Task Force notes that current legislative appropriations do not
provide adequate support for maximum effectiveness of existing faculty in
terms of assistants, equipment, and other non-faculty salary operating funds.
The Task Force recommends legislative attention to this matter.
6. The Task Force recommends an additional goal for extension programs:
extending research data and information on agricultural production, marketing
and economics to the planning and regulatory authorities.
7. Extension is an essential partner to agricultural research and the
Task Force recommends the preparation of a long term plan for extension to
complement the research plan proposed above. This plan should include both
IFAS and FAMU. As proposed above the plan should provide for a multi-faceted
extension effort with substantially increased emphasis on delivery to non-
agricultural users of such information. Such an effort should have increased
emphasis on regionalization through the use of multi-county extension faculty
appointments and regional extension centers.
8. The Task Force also recommends an examination and probable revision
of extension's system of recording and disseminating research results.
Consideration should be given to the creation of a central library of Florida
agricultural research perhaps with access via .telephone linked micro-
9. The same planning process recommended for research and extension is
recommended for education programs at IFAS and FAMU. In fact the three make
an integrated whole. Among the items which need to be considered are the
a. The Board of ~Regents' Review Team suggestions for items to be
considered by IFAS are noted. Among them are recommendations for greater use
of "cutting edge" research and researchers in teaching and more interaction
on campus with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of
b. Consideration should be given to the student body and attrac-
tion of well-qualified students. The Review Team's comments on statewide
competitive scholarships, recruitment programs, graduate stipend levels, and
treatment of out-of-state tuition waivers are all noted and recommended for
further consideration by the University and the Board of Regents.
10. As a separate but related matter in education, the Task Force thinks
the suggestion by the Board of Regents' review team of a two year or less
agricultural course is a good one. It recommends serious consideration and
analysis of this suggestion.
1. The Task Force recommends periodic reviews of the state regulatory
environment in which Florida agriculture operates compared to that of other
domestic and foreign producers. Reviews should determine whether the reasons
for regulations have changed and/or whether new, revised or reduced regula-
tions would be more appropriate.
2. The Task Force recommends an in-depth study and market test to
determine if a major program promoting "Florida" agricultural products will
be successful. The study would determine whether consumers are most inter-
ested in origin, quality and/or price of specific food product categories.
Does origin sell without quality? What quality must be maintained? Are
current grades and standards appropriate? Estimate benefit/cost ratios for
such programs. Concurrent with such a study should be another which will
investigate general revenue/industry funding for market development/expansion
3. The goal of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer
Services is to extend the distribution, sale and consumption of Florida's
agricultural products through product promotions, increased awareness of the
importance of agriculture to consumers and the utilization of television and
radio to reach mass audiences. The program attempts to engage in a vast
array of activities with a very limited budget. With this in mind, the Task
Force recommends that adequate funds be devoted to current program goals or
that the scope of activities be narrowed and focused in line with existing
funds. Efforts to assess the potential for success of various activities,
given current funding limitations, would be beneficial.
4. The Task Force is aware of state administrative efforts in the
field of federal law, policy and regulation. It is not clear to Task Force
members that such efforts result in effective representation on issues of
concern to the well-being of Florida agriculture. The Task Force recommends
a joint industry/Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Department
of Commerce/Governor's office examination of this field to determine what is
being done and how it can be improved. Specifies to be considered are:
a. A program to monitor and influence federal trade policies in
an attempt to maintain and improve the competitive position of Florida
b. Maximizing the availability and use of federal programs and
funding to support agricultural marketing research/education programs and
programs to develop/expand markets for Florida agricultural commodities/
c. Provision for an agricultural liaison staff-level position in
the Governor's office to serve as a conduit for agricultural interests with
respect to state and federal legislation and regulation and interstate
relations. This position should be coordinated with the Commissioner of
Agriculture and work closely with the Florida Department of Agriculture and
AGRICULTURE AND STATE/LOCAL PLANNING AND REGULATION
A. Proposed Amendments to State Comprehensive Plan
(Language in Bill Form is contained in Appendix D)
1. That the language of the State Comprehensive Plan be modified to
reflect the importance of achieving a successful interface between
agriculture and urban growth so as to allow continued agricultural
production in the urban areas of the state.
2. That the language of the State Comprehensive Plan be modified to
explicitly recognize the critical role of agriculture in rural
communities and the state as a whole and that the plan also recog-
nize agriculture's vital role in the use and protection of land and
3. That the language of the State Water Use Plan and the State Land
Development Plan be similarly modified to explicitly recognize
agriculture's role in the state and its unique resource needs
including access to land, the need to protect agricultural water
supplies, the need for adequate drainage systems, and the need to
use chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
4. That steps be taken to ensure that other elements of the state plan
and other state, regional and local plans be consistent with the
amended agricultural element of the State Comprehensive Plan.
B. State Agricultural Plan:
1. That the language of the State and Regional Planning Act of 1984 be
modified to direct the preparation of an agricultural plan for the
state. This plan would be on a par with the Land Use Plan and the
Water Use Plan in that it would serve to provide guidance to other
planning efforts in the state.
2. That the State Agricultural Plan contain separate elements which
specifically address production, marketing, land and water use,
environmental protection, transportation, rural development and
agricultural research and education programs. The plan would be
consistent with the agricultural section of the State Comprehensive
3. That the modified language of the State and Regional Planning Act
provide a mechanism for ensuring that other plans are consistent
with the Agricultural Plan and with the amended agricultural
element of the State Comprehensive Plan.
C. Rural Community Development:
Task Force members recommend that the state consider amendment of the
State Comprehensive Plan and related documents to specifically address the
problems of Florida's .rural areas in a comprehensive way. This could be
accomplished by developing a new rural development section of the State
Comprehensive Plan or by amending relevant sections of the existing plan.
Programs should focus on the development and expansion of both agricultural
and non-agricultural activities in rural areas and should include improved
training and educational programs for rural residents. A combination of the
two approaches could possibly be more effective. A rural community section
in the State Comprehensive Plan could serve to provide focus on rural prob-
lems. At the same time, amendments to other relevant sections of the plan
would recognize the broad nature of rural development problems and provide a
comprehensive approach to addressing those problems.
FINANCING AGRICULTURE AND AGRICULTURAL PROGRAMS
1. That the state not implement programs which involve the direct
financing of agricultural operations by state government.
2. That appropriate state agencies monitor the agricultural financial
situation in the state in an effort to ensure that federal decisions regard-
ing the farma credit system are made with the knowledge of the Florida situa-
3. That the state institute a study to identify additional sources of
state funding for agricultural programs.
4. That the state initiate a study of methods of generating funding for
agricultural programs through increased industry contributions. The focus of
such a study would be on developing several alternative approaches which
could be considered and debated by industry groups, state agency officials
5. That the state institute a policy that all state actions with the
potential for affecting agriculture be accompanied by a "statement of agri-
cultural impact" that explicitly considered such effects. Such a statement
would include an assessment of the impact of the action on the competitive
position on the agricultural industry and on the value of land as it affects
the financial position of Florida agriculture.
6. That any consideration of sales taxes on agricultural inputs by the
state legislature should be based on the consideration of potential impacts
on the competitive position of Florida agriculture.
7. That state agency heads be encouraged to review all agricultural
programs with the purpose of identifying programs that are no longer needed
or that duplicate the programs of some other state agency and that all new
agricultural programs include criteria for evaluating program effectiveness
8. That the state review economic development and industry promotion
programs to ensure that equal attention is devoted to agriculturally related
industries and that state provided development incentives are equally avail-
able to these industries.
9. That state appropriations to the existing agricultural emergency
fund be increased and that any unexpended balance be carried forward in a
trust fund to facilitate the accumulation of an adequate emergency fund.
10. That specific state policies be developed to ensure that mechanisms
exist for dealing with emergency situations which extend beyond the resources
of the existing emergency fund.
11. That the state work with other states and appropriate federal offi-
cials to ensure a continuing and reliable federal presence in protection and
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION
The Task Force has great concern that the state educational facilities
and programs do not adequately consider the needs of rural people. With this
concern in mind the Task Force recommends that the educational element of the
State Comprehensive Plan be amended to provide for the different needs of
rural areas. Specific proposals for consideration in addressing rural
educational needs are:
1. Expand vocational education opportunities and funding. The state
has undertaken many programs to improve the academic environment for students
in Florida. However, it is unclear if the same effort has been put forth for
vocational education programs. Many high school students in Florida will not
attend an institute of higher learning. Therefore, it is essential that
these students learn some type of job skills before leaving high school.
2. Increase the number of class contact hours available to students
desiring vocational education opportunities. As has been documented in this
report, there are a number of individuals who are unemployed, underemployed
or need to learn new skills. Since some of these individuals work, the only
opportunity they have to expand their skills would be through classes offered
outside of work hours.
3. Determine if it is feasible to offer tuition credits or waivers to
unemployed individuals wanting to increase occupational abilities through
educational institutions. In the long run it may prove less expensive to
increase skills and educational tools through a program such as this than to
have these individuals earning low incomes and qualifying for government
4. Develop special programs to reduce the high school dropout rate in
Florida and specific attention needs to be devoted to dropout problems in
rural Florida counties.
1. The Task Force feels that marketing research efforts should be
increased, but is unable at this time to make specific program recommenda-
tions. The Task Force does recommend that the developmental plan for re-
search proposed in the Research and Education Section consider such an
expansion, its characteristics, costs and financing. Elements which should
be considered include research in the areas of market characteristics, market
opportunities and market efficiencies. Specific items are listed as follows:
A. Market Characteristics
a. A research program to provide improved information on the competi-
tive position of present and potential commodities and products in
domestic and foreign markets. Assess potential market opportun-
ities and windows. Very specifically, identify the factors which
determine the competitiveness of Florida commodities and products
in relation to foreign and other domestic commodities and products.
b. A research program to determine and continually update estimates of
demand characteristics of Florida agricultural commodities and
potential commodities, including price elasticities and price
c. Research to monitor world agricultural- production and consumption
trends and international markets and trade patterns in order to
assess current and potential comparative advantage and competitive-
ness of Florida agricultural products. This will allow anticipa-
tion of changes in competitive factors which may impact the econom-
ic viability of Florida agriculture.
d. Consumer-oriented market research to determine current and future
needs and wants of domestic and foreign consumers in order to
adjust production and marketing practices for agricultural prod-
e. A program in the Federal/State Crop Reporting Service to determine
planting intentions and crop expectations to better coordinate
Florida production and probable demand for specific commodities,
f. A research program which studies the effects of macro-economic
factors, government programs and policies and global activities on
the competitiveness of Florida agriculture, aquaculture and marine
B. Market Opportunities
a. Research programs to develop new processing technologies and to
determine the technical and economic feasibility of specific
value-added activities such as packaging and transportation,
b. Additional support for basic research resulting in improved prod-
ucts, varieties, forms, methods and techniques such as post-harvest
handling to improve the marketability of Florida agricultural,
aquacultural and marine products and the maximization of value-
c. Market research and advertising research to develop the information
base required to evaluate and potentially conduct effective commod-
ity advertising programs.
d. Marketing research and market development activities and programs
which can identify and evaluate alternative crops, markets and/or
marketing methods and suggest economically viable alternatives
particularly for financially distressed producers.
C. Market Efficiencies
a. Research to improve the transportation cost situation for Florida
agriculture through development of more efficient systems or
product forms, allowing Florida to more effectively compete with
other U.S. and foreign production areas.
b. Research to improve the growth of labor productivity and solve
other technical and functional problems which can result in im-
proved physical efficiencies in the marketing system.
c. Research programs to evaluate changing market structures and price
discovery mechanisms and determine whether prices received ade-
quately reflect relevant supply and demand conditions.
2. The Task Force recommends consideration of programs and policies
designed to increase agricultural exports. Departments such as Agriculture,
Commerce and Citrus should evaluate both tariff and non-tariff barriers. to
increasing exports and recommend state and federal policy actions to stimu-
late exports. Provide technical assistance to firms and industries at-
tempting to export to specific countries.