Newswise — GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- In light of the competitive and dynamic global economy, experts from UF/IFAS and other organizations will share knowledge about how to deal with pressures facing growers in Florida at the third annual Florida Agricultural Policy Conference.

The conference will be held Feb. 21 at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida.

Whether it’s trade agreements, labor, water supply or how to manage post-Irma, growers are trying to make the best decisions for their business, said Spiro Stefanou, chair of the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department, which organizes the conference.

“The constant issue facing Florida agribusinesses is change,” Stefanou said. “This conference will address the hot-button topics we are facing presently and glean some lessons and strategies to adapt to emerging challenges. Effective business decision makers and policy makers will manage change rather than let change and events manage them.”

The conference will address critical policy issues facing Florida agribusiness and natural resource management, Stefanou said. Topics for the conference include:


  • Agricultural trade and global competition.
  • Agricultural labor.
  • Water supply.
  • Agricultural product marketing research.
  • Economic impacts of natural disasters on agriculture.
  • Economic opportunities and threats facing Florida agriculture.

Following each presentation, conference participants can ask questions and provide additional insight.

Those attending include leaders from agriculture, marketing, water and natural resource management, finance, local and state government, academia, media and business development.

Here are the conference speakers:

  • Zhengfei Guan – an assistant professor at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, will speak about trends in U.S.-Mexico competition in specialty crops.
  • Michael Reed, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Kentucky, will share his global view of agricultural trade.
  • John VanSickle – a professor at UF/IFAS in Gainesville, will talk about the potential renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
  • Fritz Roka – an associate professor at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, will talk about agriculture labor economics.
  • Hayk Khachatryan – an assistant professor at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida REC, will describe his research into agricultural product consumer marketing and how this might help us answer global competition.
  • Christa Court, an assistant research scientist at UF/IFAS in Gainesville; and Alan Hodges, Extension scientist at UF/IFAS in Gainesville, will shed light on economic impacts of natural disasters on agriculture, particularly in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
  • Ray Scott, deputy director of the Office of Agricultural Water Policy for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, will give an update about agriculture water policy.
  • Jaime Jerrels, director of Ag Policy/National Affairs, and John Walt Boatright, coordinator of Ag Policy/National Affairs with the Florida Farm Bureau, will give an agricultural legislative update.
  • Interested parties can find out more information about the conference and register here: 


By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, [email protected]

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

Register for reporter access to contact details

Third Annual Florida Agricultural Policy Conference, Feb 21