Volusia Farm Bureau reflects on recent events at Annual Dinner

Volusia County Farm Bureau board member George Benedict serves dinner to longtime honorary board member Stubby McDonald.

Roughly 300 Volusia County Farm Bureau members celebrated the good things and reflected on recent events during the Annual Member Dinner, Oct. 5.

“We’ve had catastrophes across the nation and across the world,” said Florida Farm Bureau Federation President John Hoblick as he addressed attendees. “Here (in Florida) agriculture took it on the chin.”

Hoblick, a DeLand resident, remembered several local agriculture leaders who passed away in 2017, including both of his parents. He then recounted damages from Hurricane Irma that farmers will be recovering from for several seasons. The damages affected all 300 agriculture commodities grown in the Sunshine State with total losses of $1.8 billion, he said.

In South Florida, sugar cane was twisted on the stalk making harvesting by machine difficult. Hoblick said the storm might affect two years of sugar production. Citrus growers lost 70-90 percent of their crop. Already planted winter vegetables were also severely damaged.

He continued that the industry suffered 55,000 jobs lost, as well as economic losses of $552 million in citrus, $435 million in nursery plants, $382 million sugar and $261 million in timber. He talked of emergency evacuations of cattle stranded in flooded fields and how power outages affected the dairy industry here.

“But we are resilient,” Hoblick added.

To help, the state’s Women’s Committee has set up a Hurricane Irma Relief Fund. “One hundred percent dedicated to farmers,” said Hoblick.

“Your state (agriculture) organization is working diligently day in and day out for you. The voice of agriculture is very important to our industry. It’s critical.”

Hoblick went on to commend Volusia County Farm Bureau for being the second largest in membership in Florida with 5,879 member families. He said Volusia could expect five awards of excellence and a Presidential Award at the upcoming Florida Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting. He talked about strength in numbers, unity of purpose and Farm Bureau’s dedication to education, community and the state’s agriculture producers.

After a very professional delivery of his winning youth speech on the subject of how farmers can use technology and in-person opportunities to educate the public about food labels, 14-year-old Pranov Swaminathan sang Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind.” The audience responded with a standing ovation.

Volusia County Farm Bureau President Sam Daugharty then thanked members for their support of agriculture here. And David Register, a Volusia County Farm Bureau Board member and Executive Vice President of Fern Trust, Inc. in Seville was awarded for his volunteer service as chairman of the Florida Farm Bureau Federation Trade Committee.