Hardee County dairyman Joe Wright, who left a successful law career to milk cows, was the inaugural winner of the Agriculture Institute of Florida’s AG-Vocate Award in 2007. After six-year stint as an attorney in Winter Park, Fla., he started working in 1988 for V&W Farms, which was started by his late father-in-law.
Since 1997, Joe has been company president of the farm, which milks more than 1,000 cows in a modified grazing operation and has 12 full-time employees. V&W Farms was awarded the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture’s Ag Environmental Leadership Award in 1998.
From 1990 to 2010, he served on the board of directors for Florida Dairy Farmers, the state’s dairy checkoff promotion organization.
He has been the president of Southeast Milk Inc. since it was formed in 1998. Southeast Milk is a milk marketing cooperative owned by about 215 member dairy farms in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Louisiana and Mississippi. It owns three fluid milk plants and an ultra-filtration balancing plant. It is the largest cooperative in Florida.
He also has served on a number of other dairy industry boards across the country, and he recently testified before Congress on the Farm Bill.
In addition to dairy farming, Joe has been involved in his community. He was a member of the City Council in Avon Park from 2007-2009 and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of South Florida State College, also in Avon Park.
The Ag-Vocate Award recognizes an individual who has communicated effectively with opinion leaders and the general public to increase the recognition of and appreciation for the important contributions that agriculture makes to Florida’s economy and environment.
Photo: Joe and Suzanne Wright
Photo courtesy of Mick Lochridge, Florida Dairy Farmers.