Florida Farm Bureau Recognizes Outstanding State Lawmakers for 2014

Gainesville, Fla. – Florida Farm Bureau, Florida’s largest statewide agricultural association, has announced its Legislators of the Year and Champions for Agriculture.

Legislators of the Year

The Florida Farm Bureau’s Legislator of the Year award is presented to lawmakers who demonstrate excellent leadership on agricultural issues and work proactively to advance the interests of Florida’s farmers and ranchers. These leaders have demonstrated a sustained commitment to developing Florida’s economy and protecting the state’s natural resources.

Throughout the 2014 legislative session, Sen. Bill Montford played a leading role in supporting and promoting Florida agriculture as the Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. During the last two legislative sessions, Montford presided over a committee that heard and passed significant legislation important to Florida’s farm families.

In 2014, he sponsored two of Florida Farm Bureau’s legislative priorities: a bill that helped expand opportunities for agricultural education in schools and legislation that helped strengthen and improve Florida’s “Greenbelt” law by allowing farm land used for water storage to remain classified as agricultural property.

“We are very grateful for Sen. Montford‘s leadership and dedication to strengthen agriculture in the 2014 session,” said Florida Farm Bureau President John Hoblick. “Senator Montford’s experience and passion for both education and agriculture helped us pass sound policy that benefits students and the environment.”

Rep. Jake Raburn has been an equally effective advocate for Florida’s farm families. During the 2014 session Raburn sponsored legislation that expanded the number of agricultural industry certifications included in the CAPE funding list. He was also the primary co-sponsor of HB 575, a bill that would have saved farmers $2.4 million in sales tax exemptions on irrigation equipment and repairs. Although HB 575 did not pass, language updating and protecting the Greenbelt assessment on agricultural land was amended onto HB 7091 and passed the Legislature, giving farmers additional protections on their agricultural land.

“Representative Raburn is a superb advocate for agriculture,” said Hoblick. “His work ethic and effort as a bill sponsor are unmatched and we are grateful for all he has done to promote issues important to agriculture.

“We are excited about Rep. Raburn’s future in the Legislature and look forward to continuing our work with him during his time in the Florida House,” Hoblick added.

Champions for Agriculture

In addition to naming its Legislators of the Year, Florida Farm Bureau has named its second annual list of Champions for Agriculture, recognizing a group of legislators for their role in promoting an agriculture-friendly legislative agenda.

For 2014, Farm Bureau recognizes six Senators and 18 Representatives who took an active role in supporting our state’s farmers and ranchers by sponsoring and co-sponsoring priority legislation and by having a perfect voting record on the organization’s priority issues.

“Florida Farm Bureau is thankful to have a group of lawmakers in Tallahassee that continue to demonstrate strong leadership and advocacy on behalf of Florida agriculture,” stated Hoblick. “We are grateful for their efforts that allow agriculture to continue to benefit our state’s economy and its environment.”

The Champions for Agriculture are:

Florida Senate

Sen. Jeff Brandes
Sen. Charlie Dean
Sen. Bill Galvano
Sen. Denise Grimsley
Sen. Bill Montford
Sen. Wilton Simpson

Florida House of Representatives

Rep. Ben Albritton
Rep. Halsey Beshears
Rep. Jim Boyd
Rep. Matt Caldwell
Rep. Marti Coley
Rep. Steve Crisafulli
Rep. Katie Edwards
Rep. Debbie Mayfield
Rep. Jimmy Patronis
Rep. Cary Pigman
Rep. Ray Pilon
Rep. Elizabeth Porter
Rep. Jake Raburn
Rep. Kevin Rader
Rep. Holly Raschein
Rep. Pat Rooney
Rep. Jimmie T. Smith
Rep. Charlie Van Zant