Speakers and Issues Forums

State of the Industry

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (invited)

Florida’s agriculture commissioner will give his perspective on the most important issues facing agriculture today. Putnam has made protecting Florida’s water supply his signature issue and will discuss how water policy will affect the future of Florida agriculture. The commissioner also will share his perspective on expanding markets for Florida products, progress in putting healthy produce on schoolchildren’s lunch plates, and more.

Cracker Breakfast

Mike Allen, Chief White House Correspondent for POLITICO and Author of Playbook

Mike Allen is one of Washington's most influential and well-connected journalists. The chief White House correspondent and a founder of POLITICO, he is the driving force behind its daily email tip-sheet Playbook, the early-morning go-to source for movers and shakers in politics and the media. His reach extends to the president, with the New York Times calling him "the man the White House wakes up to." Vanity Fair said, "Reading Playbook is as close as you can come on a Washington morning to knowing everything."

Allen will offer his non-partisan, energetic and up-to-the-minute insider perspective on the upcoming presidential election and the political issues of the day.

He not only reports on but also drives the day's conversations in and around the Beltway. His sharp journalistic experience and coveted insider status make him an ideal choice to discuss the latest political happenings.

Before POLITICO, Allen served as TIME magazine's White House correspondent and spent six years at the Washington Post. There he covered President George W. Bush's first term, Capitol Hill, campaign finance, and the Bush, Gore and Bradley campaigns of 2000


Discussing GMOs:
A Marathon, not a Sprint 

The public debate over genetically modified foods often pits science against emotion and fear-based arguments. Navigating this complicated topic and addressing pervasive myths and misconceptions is a challenge. Find out why every form of communication matters and how you can participate in the conversation with confidence.

Kavin Senapathy
Kavin Senapathy is a science communicator who tackles myths on science, health and food. She is the co-executive director of the international pro-science, pro-biotech organization March Against Myths. She also co-authored “The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari’s Glass House,” a book discussing popular food misconceptions and why they proliferate in the face of mountains of evidence against them. Senapathy is a regular contributor to Forbes and Grounded Parents, with work also appearing in Gawker, Slate and the Genetic Literacy Project. 

Election 2016: Where Do We Go From Here?

As November elections draw near, much is at stake for agriculture. The outcome of elections in both houses of Congress could have a significant effect on major issues important to agriculture, including workforce, nutrition programs and trade. Learn what these changes will mean for the specialty crop industry in the near future and the long term. At the state level, get a look at the constitutional amendments on the ballot and what they could mean if passed.

Kam Quarles
Kam Quarles is director of legislative affairs for the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery. He focuses on food safety, sustainability, international agricultural trade, and supply chain and phytosanitary issues. Before joining McDermott, Kam was vice president for government relations and legislative affairs at the United Fresh Produce Association.  In this role, he developed the fresh produce industry’s response to climate change legislation, and was the lead lobbyist on supply chain, labor and trade issues.  Kam also served as the vice president for government affairs at the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

Rep. Katie Edwards
Rep. Katie Edwards was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2012. She is a Democrat who represents parts of Davie, Plantation and Sunrise. Edwards is known as a champion for sentencing reform and cost-effective criminal justice policies. She also is recognized as the leading legislative advocate for the research and development of cannabis-derived therapies to treat a wide range of illnesses. She led passage of the Charlotte's Web Bill that legalized low-THC marijuana to treat illnesses such as epilepsy. in 2015, she sponsored legislation that strengthened Florida's Bert J. Harris Private property act to protect property owners from unconstitutional governmental exactions.


Global Markets: A Produce Perspective

International trade is an important component of Florida’s economy, creating jobs and growth. But finding and growing new markets for agricultural products comes with its own set of challenges. In this moderated discussion, hear from a panel of experts on the trade outlook for Florida’s specialty crop industry.

Bill Messina, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Since 1992, Bill Messina has led the University of Florida’s research initiative to provide objective data, information and analysis on Cuba’s agricultural and fisheries sectors. A widely recognized expert on the topic, Messina has testified before the U.S. House and Senate Congressional committees and the U.S. International Trade Commission and given briefings to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the State Department. 

Dan Richey, Riverfront Packing
A decades-long leader in the Florida citrus industry, Dan Richey is president and CEO of Riverfront Packing. He has served on the Florida Citrus Commission, including two years as its chairman. He also served on a select committee of advisors to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. He is a longtime member of FFVA’s Board of Directors, and is past president of the Florida Citrus Packers and Indian River Citrus League.

Wade Elliott, Port Tampa Bay
Wade Elliott is vice president of marketing and business development for Port Tampa Bay. He serves as chairman of the Tampa Foreign Trade Zone and on the board of directors of Tampa Port Ministries Seafarers’ Center and the Tampa Bay International Business Council. Elliott has more than 25 years of port marketing, business development and research experience working with clients across the globe, including exporters, importers, ocean carriers, terminal operators and cruise lines.