Chuck Woods (352) 392-1773 x 281
ORLANDO — “Agriculture’s Uncertain Future: Unfortunate Demise or Timely Opportunity” is the title of a keynote address by Fred Kirschenmann, director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, to be presented at a University of Florida conference in Orlando on Thursday (6/28) at noon.
Kirschenmann’s speech at the Florida FIRST strategic planning conference will cover key issues facing the state’s $49 billion agricultural and natural resource industries. Issues include:
- the impact of government regulations
- the introduction of new pests and diseases
- the growing water quantity and quality problem associated with rapid population growth
- the continuing encroachment of urban development on agricultural and fragile lands
- the negative consequences of foreign competition on Florida agriculture
Hosted by UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), the three-day Florida FIRST conference will be held June 27-29 at the Wyndham Palace Hotel at Lake Buena Vista. The conference will review all aspects of statewide UF/IFAS teaching, research and extension programs. Florida FIRST is short for Focusing IFAS Resources on Solutions for Tomorrow.
Mike Martin, UF vice president for agriculture and natural resources, said the conference is a follow-up to a May 1999 meeting in Safety Harbor, Fla., where “research and education priorities” were established to ensure a sustainable, competitive food, fiber and natural resource system for the state. The 1999 conference also established guidelines and objectives for enhancing Florida’s natural and human resources.
“Now that we are well into a new decade — with new political and economic realities — it is essential that we meet with our faculty and stakeholders,” Martin said. “We need to review our state mandate of providing service to the food, agricultural and related natural and human resource sectors of Florida. All faculty and clients served by UF/IFAS are involved.”
Martin said the Florida FIRST planning effort is a flexible and adaptable process that will help guide UF/IFAS programs and objectives at a time when state support has been reduced. He said the planning effort is designed to identify important UF/IFAS research and education priorities for residents and others who have a direct “stake” in those programs.
The planning process will include a unit-by-unit analysis of UF/IFAS progress in meeting the Florida FIRST program priorities. Support and administrative operations also are being reviewed, and Florida research and education programs are being compared with those in other states.
The UF vice president outlined early major phases of the planning process, including base papers for major commodity areas, analyses of current situations, major factors affecting change and other trends. The “determinants of change” identify major technological, institutional, human capital and natural resource forces that affect specific Florida commodity areas.
The nine major sub-sectors include:
- animals (beef, dairy, horses, poultry and other livestock)
- field crops (sugarcane and other field crops)
- forage crops
- citrus and other fruit crops
- vegetable crops
- ornamental horticulture
- turf grass
- aquaculture, fisheries and wildlife
Martin said the “base papers” developed by UF/IFAS faculty in cooperation with industry and government leaders, and conference sessions identified critical research and extension priorities for the next 5-10 years and beyond.
“Using the base papers prepared in 1999, and the current reports for meeting program priorities, the plan for UF/IFAS will be updated,” Martin said. “This plan will provide the basis for setting future program and funding priorities in cooperation with leaders from industry and government.”
He said the final phases of the strategic planning process include implementation and evaluation of the various outcomes over a period of years.