During World War II, Florida farmers faced challenges ranging from President Roosevelt’s Emergency Price Control Act and rationing to shortages of supplies and three years of freezes. Thus, it was that on July 1, 1943, a meeting called by the Florida Farm Bureau was held in the Chamber of Commerce Building, Orlando, to organize the Florida Vegetable Committee (later FFVA).
The Farm Bureau people promote the committee to fight the battles for vegetable people on labor supplies, shipping containers, freight rates, government regulations, price ceilings and price floors, tax matters, bottlenecks on car icing, fertilizers and other essentials.
A few days before the July 1 meeting, John Ford, Orlando, executive secretary of the FFB, said of the meeting, “Almost without exception the replies were enthusiastic … Nobody dreamed this could happen so fast.”
Seventy-five growers and shippers representing 98,000 acres attended. The chairman was John D. Clark, president of FFB, which had about $8,000 as seed money for the proposed committee. Pete Lins of Martin County, chairman of the FFB Vegetable Committee, presented the plan.
Glenn Grimes, Orlando attorney, made the motion, which was seconded by Ralph Atkinson of Putnam County, to establish the committee. It didn’t take long before a nominating committee was named on motion of Luther L. Chandler of Dade County.
The committee consisted of L.L. Stuckey, Palm Beach; John Campbell, Dade, St. Lucie and Lee; Paul B. Dickman, Hillsborough; Cecil Barber, Dade; Leo Burner, Seminole; G.B. Hogan, Broward; Ralph Atkinson, Putnam; and Cecil Campbell, Pinellas.
Working through lunch, the committee selected a slate of 10 to serve as principals and 10 alternates who were unanimously elected. The committeemen decided that a proposed charter and by-laws be prepared and sent to each county Farm Bureau vegetable committee chairman and to all county agents in vegetable-growing counties.
At a meeting later that day, the board formally accepted the offer of FFB to temporarily finance necessary FVC activities.
In a statement on the background and basic policies of FVC, the following points were included:
- The individual farmer cannot continue without the direct aid and moral support of an organized group of fellow farmers to cope with bureaucratic agencies, labor problems, constantly changing economic conditions, restricted and controlled markets and supply.
- Provide Florida fresh vegetable growers with the advantages of organized effort
- Assist in formulating long-range national policies
- Supply federal agencies with accurate Florida data; keep federal agencies informed as to Florida’s needs. Speed up bureaucratic procedures.
- Keep growers intelligently informed and make certain the public is fully informed.
Several years later the purposes of the committee were stated to be:
- To develop the $105 million Florida vegetable industry; to conduct and direct research – either through its own departments or through federal, state and private agencies.
- To assist growers and shippers of each commodity in problems peculiar to their industry, be they production difficulties, over-supply, quality of product or package, competition, marketing or sales promotion.
- To work cooperatively with distributive, retail, and transportation agencies in creating a more efficient and economic system of merchandising fresh Florida vegetables.
- To serve as a clearinghouse of information between members and agencies of government.
- To provide a medium whereby growers and shippers can cooperatively work for the betterment of the industry – and of themselves.
At the first meeting of the FVC, immediate programs under discussion included getting fair prices under the price control system, maintaining them in the face of consumer attacks, and securing adequate supplies of containers, fertilizer, insecticides, fuel and other products.
As part of an “aggressive membership drive,” the secretary was authorized to wage an “energetic publicity campaign.”
At its second meeting, the committee named E.W. Lins as the first president (chairman) of the committee and Loring Raoul, vice president (vice chairman).