Newswise — GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economists and other experts will explore economic insights helpful for making informed business and policy decisions at the second annual Florida Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference, organized by the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department.

This year’s topics include the innovation economy, food and nutrition policy, agricultural labor, water quality and management and agricultural production policy and trade.

The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, 14625 County Road 672, Balm, Florida.

“Agriculture is a vital industry for Florida with interesting opportunities and compelling challenges as we move into the future,” said Spiro Stefanou, chair of the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department. “Our goal is to bring industry experts, researchers, policy and business leaders together to discuss the current and emerging challenges related to Florida as an engine of innovation, policy related to food, nutrition and consumer decision making, water quality and management, agricultural labor and the prospects for our fruit and vegetable industry.”

This year speakers include:

• Jerry Parrish, chief economist and director of research for the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation, speaking about an innovation economy. Parrish will focus on agriculture and agricultural research that are already benefitting from the development of Florida’s innovation economy.

• Zhengfei Guan, UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics, speaking about the fruit and vegetable industry – threats, challenges and opportunities. Guan will cover challenges in production, trade and competition, and the impacts of the Food Safety Modernization Act, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the tomato suspension agreement.

• Jeff Sumner, vice president of Federico and Associates, speaking on agricultural water issues. Sumner will explore how regulatory and environmental challenges to agriculture are related to water quality and water supply issues. He’ll also discuss the role of agriculture in regional water supply planning.• Jaclyn Kropp, UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics, speaking on food, nutrition and health. Kropp will focus on the National School Lunch Program and initiatives to get children to make healthier food choices. • Gulcan Onel, UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics, speaking on agricultural labor and immigration. Onel will talk about the extent to which immigrant farmworkers affect the economic opportunities of native farm workers. She’ll also talk about findings from the Florida citrus workers survey conducted during the last harvest year.• Brandon McFadden, UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics, speaking on economic issues for genetically modified organisms. The topic for McFadden’s talk stems from the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS), signed into law on July 29, 2016. McFadden will discuss the implications of the standard for agricultural and food industries.

Last year’s conference drew more than 70 professionals including agribusiness executives, water district managers, producer associations, agricultural credit services executives and policy leaders. Attendees were particularly pleased with the range of topics and the knowledgeable experts, and overwhelmingly reported that the conference met or exceeded expectations, according to a post-conference survey.

You can still register online at The conference costs $50 and covers attendance and a catered lunch. For more information, go to:


By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, [email protected]Source: Spiro Stefanou, 352-294-7625, [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.