– Four inducted to Florida Ag Hall of Fame –
Four outstanding contributors to Florida agriculture were recently inducted into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame. In ceremonies held in connection with the Florida State Fair in Tampa, citrusmen Ben Hill Griffin Jr. and Anthony T. Rossi, cattleman J.O. Pearce Jr. and the late James S. Wershow, an agricultural tax law expert, were inducted by Commissioner Doyle Conner. These gentlemen join 29 other outstanding contributors who have been inducted since its origination in 1980.
Ben Hill Griffin Jr., 76, started out in the citrus business with a 10-acre grove given to him by his father and subsequently built one of the largest agricultural enterprises in Florida.
Griffin is chief executive officer of Ben Hill Griffin Inc. and is president and chairman of the board of Alico Inc. Ben Hill Griffin Inc. of Frostproof is involved in citrus growing, grove management and cattle ranching. Alico, headquartered in LaBelle, has many citrus, cattle, forestry, rock mining and land holdings.
Anthony T. Rossi, 86, is the founder of Tropicana Products, one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of orange juice.
Rossi, who had the equivalent of a high school education in Sicily, came to America at the age of 21 and educated himself to the point that he became an expert mathematician and mechanical engineer.
Rossi founded Tropicana in Bradenton in 1946 and served as its chairman of the board, president and chief operating officer until he retired in 1979.
Okeechobee cattleman John Olan Pearce Jr., 68, has been a longtime leader in the development of programs to control and eradicate cattle diseases and pests in Florida.
The late James S. Wershow was a professor of law and agricultural law at the University of Florida.
Wershow, a Connecticut native who died in 1985 at the age of 73, was a principal author of the Florida “Greenbelt Law,” which provides for agricultural use assessment of Florida farmland for tax purposes, rather than assessment based on development or speculative values.