FFVA 2014 issues forums to cover critical concerns

Besides offering outstanding networking opportunities, FFVA’s annual conventions are known for their Issues Forums, which cover the latest information on concerns its members face every day. These have included immigration and labor, technology innovations, marketing modernizations, food safety requirements and more. This year is no exception as FFVA brings together expert presenters from across the country. These experts promise to share up-to-the-minute information and answer the questions that keep producers up at night.

FFVA’s 71 Annual Convention will be held Sept. 17-19 at The Ritz-Carlton in Naples.

The first Issues Forum, at 2:15 p.m. Sept. 17, is “Water and the 2014 Election: What’s Ahead for Agriculture.”  Every election has implications for agriculture, and this year’s state and congressional elections are no exception. Water usage is a front-burner area of concern that will continue to boil.

Terry Cole of the law firm Gunster will moderate the first Issues Forum, “Water and the 2014 Election: What’s Ahead for Agriculture.”

Moderating the forum will be Terry Cole of the law firm Gunster.  Cole focuses his practice in Tallahassee on environmental law, governmental administrative law and litigation. Before joining Gunster, he spent 25 years building his law practice at Oertel, Fernandez, Cole & Bryant in Tallahassee. Before that, Cole served as assistant secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation and its general counsel, where he was involved with all department programs and directed the development of many of the rules. Cole played a key role in defining legislation, including the Water Quality Assurance Act and the Wetlands Protection Act.

Invited panelists for the session are David Childs of the law firm of Hopping, Green & Sams; Ryan Tyson, vice president of political operations at Associated Industries of Florida, and Rich Budell from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Agricultural Water Policy.

Forum participant David Childs specializes in water regulation.

Childs represents and counsels various industry and local government clients on environmental permitting, enforcement, rulemaking and legislative issues, with a particular focus on water regulation and marine industry issues. He serves as primary legal counsel for the Florida Water Environment Association Utility Council, a statewide association of domestic wastewater treatment utilities.

Tyson is vice president of political operations for the Associated Industries of Florida, known as the “voice of Florida business,” where he coordinates all AIF political operations including its Political Council and the AIF Political Action Committee.

Budell serves as director of FDACS’ Office of Agricultural Water Policy. He is responsible for the development and implementation of agricultural Best Management Practices addressing non-point source water quality impacts statewide. Budell has served on numerous advisory committees to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, including the Pollutant Trading Policy Advisory Committee and the Designated Use Classification Policy Advisory Committee. Budell recently completed work on a National Academy of Sciences Committee evaluating the nutrient reduction strategies being employed in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Susan Nardizzi, director of FDACS' Division of Marketing and Development wil moderate the issues forum, "Fresh Perspectives and Trends for Produce."

Following the annual traditional “Cracker Breakfast” on Thursday at which Bloomberg Managing Editor Mark Halperin will speak, will be the second Issues Forum, “Fresh Perspectives and Trends for Produce.” The forum will discuss evolving consumer and retailer preferences and how technology, social media, shopping and diet trends affect the fresh produce industry. Reggie Griffin, formerly of Kroger, and Rich Dachman from Sysco, Inc. will present their insights. Susan Nardizzi, director of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Division of Marketing and Development, will moderate.

Griffin is the former corporate vice president of produce and floral merchandising and procurement for Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. He now heads Reggie Griffin Strategies, working with clients to determine the strategies and tactics needed to be successful in today’s demanding marketplace.

Dachman is senior vice president of national accounts for Sysco/FreshPoint. Before joining FreshPoint, he was national director of produce for Kraft.

Nardizzi is responsible for a division encompassing the marketing of 300 commodities within Florida, nationally and internationally.

Sheldon Blumling of Fisher & Phillips (above) will join Angie Vitale and Andrew Fox of BB&T-J. Rolfe Davis as panelists for "Navigating the Maze of Health Care Reform."

The final forum will tackle a timely, complicated and constantly evolving topic – health care reform and how it affects agricultural operations. “Navigating the Maze of Health Care Reform” will cover the Affordable Care Act, providing the latest on what employers need to know about compliance and how it affects their business and their workforce.  Angie Vitale and Andrew Fox of BB&T-J. Rolfe Davis and Sheldon Blumling of Fisher & Phillips will share their perspectives.

Vitale is vice president of BB&T-J. Rolfe Davis Insurance in Orlando, focusing on employee benefit plan compliance. She participated in FFVA’s recent statewide health care reform workshops. Fox serves as an employee benefits consultant with the firm.

Blumling is a partner in the Irvine, CA, office of Fisher & Phillips, a national labor and employment law firm. He is a member of the firm’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice Group, advising clients on employee benefits and executive compensation.

In addition to the Issues Forums, FFVA 2014 will kick off with an opening-day State of the Industry presentation by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Another highlight of the convention will be the graduation of the current class of FFVA’s Emerging Leader Development Program during the Awards Luncheon on Sept. 18.

To learn more about the convention and to register, please visit the Convention section of FFVA.com.

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