To educate, encourage and empower individuals and organizations to communicate more effectively on behalf of Florida agriculture.
For more than 40 years, the Agriculture Institute of Florida has been dedicated to promoting the value of Florida agriculture and to helping elected officials and the public understand more about the state’s rich agricultural history and its diverse agricultural industry. The Ag Institute is a non-profit organization guided by a board of directors made up of professional communicators from associations, businesses and institutions that are engaged in or support Florida’s agricultural community.
Every four years, along with Farm Credit, the Ag Institute sponsors a Candidates Forum for Florida’s governor and Cabinet races to bring growers and those seeking to lead our state together to discuss issues critical to our state and our industry.
The Ag Institute also provides valuable networking and educational opportunities for professionals and for individual producers and association volunteers in the areas of public relations, communications and issues management.
In 1970, executives and owners of longtime Florida companies such as Ben Hill Griffin, Inc. and A. Duda and Sons met to establish the Agribusiness Institute of Florida, a group reaching beyond commodity divisions and dedicated to increasing public awareness of the importance of agriculture in Florida.
As Florida tourism grew in importance, the organization realized it would be critical to remind Floridians – and the state’s elected officials – of the many contributions that citrus, row crops and other commodities provide to the state. Among the first activities of the Institute was the development of a candidates’ forum to be held every four years in conjunction with election years. The forum invites candidates for U.S. senator, governor, commissioner of agriculture and other Cabinet posts to share their position on agricultural issues and provide a forum for growers to ask questions and voice their opinions. The forum is still viewed as one of the Ag Institute’s most valuable contributions to Florida agriculture.
In 1989, Tom Morgan, a longtime Ag Institute member and former vice president of communications at A. Duda and Sons Inc. suggested the organization change its membership from businessmen to communication specialists. As a communication specialist himself, Morgan recognized the plight of agriculture as a communication problem, which could thereby be solved best by people experienced with such problems.
Since then, the Ag Institute has focused on educating Floridians and changing their perceptions of Florida’s agriculture. The organization has sponsored a number of communications and outreach activities, including:
Workshops & seminars
on a variety of relevant topics for agricultural communicators, including crisis communication, effective social media engagement and communication-related research
to provide key stakeholder groups with a firsthand look at various crops and other agriculture commodities
newspaper and magazine editorial board meetings
to help share the positive messages of Florida agriculture
The Ag Institute continues to serve as a communications resource for and about the state’s agriculture industry, gaining strength from the collaboration of knowledge from members involved in the many different sectors of Florida agriculture.
Ag Institute Foundation
The Agriculture Institute of Florida, Inc. Foundation, the charitable arm of the Agriculture Institute of Florida, Inc., is dedicated to promoting the value of Florida agriculture, educating the public and helping elected officials understand the state’s rich agricultural history and diverse agricultural industries.
AG INSTITUTE BOARD
AMBER MALONEY / Wish Farms
Immediate Past President
GAIL RAYOS / Wragg & Casas Public Relations
TORY BOYD / Farm Credit
LISA LOCHRIDGE / Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association
RUTH HOHL BORGER / UF/IFAS Information and Communication Services
Board of Directors
Brian Chapman / Florida Dairy Farmers
G.B. Crawford / Florida Farm Bureau
Denise Feiber / Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Division of Plant Industry
Cheryl Flood / Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Ron Hamel / Gulf Citrus Growers Association
Joel Jackson / Florida Golf Course Superintendents Association
Steve Lezman / Tropicana Products, Inc.
Betsy McGill / Turfgrass Producers of Florida
Ron O’Connor / Farm Credit
Cathleen Raffety / DUDA
Joy Rumble / UF/IFAS Agriculture Education and Communication
Judy Sanchez / U.S. Sugar Corporation
Tracy Szelwach / Tropicana Products, Inc.
Dr. Ricky Telg / UF/IFAS Agriculture Education and Communication