Florida Agribusiness Council, Inc




The Florida Agribusiness Council (FL/ABC) is a nonprofit, voluntary membership association established for the purpose of strengthening the state's agro-food system. FL/ABC is registered in Tallahassee with its temporary secretariat in Clearwater. The FL/ABC concept was introduced in 1996 during a meeting at Epcot Center dealing with new agricultural technologies by Nicholas E. Hollis to an informal steering committee comprising Florida ag organization, university and business representatives. FL/ABC is an independent association modeled after similar counterpart associations in other states. FL/ABC is affiliated with The Agribusiness Council (ABC), which is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization with offices in Washington, DC. ABC has been in operation for thirty years since it was established after a White House meeting between President Johnson and food executive Henry Heinz, chairman of Heinz Foods (ABC's first chairman).

FL/ABC assists the state agro-industry and allied sectors by providing a neutral, nonpartisan forum for representatives of different parts of the agro-food system to engage in practical problem-solving dialogue, information dissemination on major issues/markets and leading-edge technologies impacting Florida's agriculture/food economy. FL/ABC also improves contracts with counterpart agribusiness associations in other states and abroad, raises the prestige of farmers and strengthens awareness of "agribusiness perspectives" from a private sector vantage in all fields of agriculture. FL/ABC also seeks to improve agro-industry's voice with appropriate government agencies and urban Florida.

Results Expected
Once fully operational, FL/ABC will generate benefits for its members, improve the climate for cross-sectoral problem-solving through specialized committees and facilitate action projects through its board of directors, general assembly (annual meeting) and informal links with other associations operating at the state, regional, county and local levels. Results will include increased information flow and contacts on new markets, reducing costs and agriculture/food technologies to and from the grassroots to decision-makers. FL/ABC shares a website with The Agribusiness Council (ABC) and other affiliated state counterpart associations.

Method of Operation
FL/ABC will achieve its objectives working through specialized committees and issue task forces organized in the annual meeting and action programs (i.e., seminar, trade missions, pilot projects, website promotion, publications and exhibitions). FL/ABC may also act as an educational lobby vehicle for agribusiness to appropriate authorities. FL/ABC will provide cost-efficient contracts and information utilizing newsletters and its links to counterpart associations in and outside the state. FL/ABC will build gradually, and not all committees will be operational in the first phases.

Future Direction of Activities
FL/ABC's growth during the first year has been rapid with more than 150 enrolled supporters, firms, farms and organizations. The FL/ABC steering committee is now refining the organization's bylaws and statutes. An inaugural conference is be convene all enrolled subscribers and specialized committee members. Specialized committees - including Agro-Transport and Distribution, International Trade/Development, Agro-Environment and Natural Resources, and Ag Research & Technologies - are being developed separately within FL/ABC has initiated contacts with similar groups and compatible ag networks in the Caribbean and Latin America. On the heritage preservation front, FL/ABC is providing logistical support for the William Jennings Bryan Recognition Project (WJBP) honoring the Great Commoner. Bryan lived in Coral Gables during his last decade and contributed greatly to the development of South Florida.

FL/ABC is supported in its formation phase by voluntary contributions from leading companies and organizations interested in the state's agro-food (including aquaculture) and forestry economy. More than 150 companies, farms and organizations - including Disney/Epcot, ICS Logistics, Gateway Suppliers, Port of Palm Beach, CSX Transport, Harborside Refrigerated Services, East Marsh Nursery, Golden Gem Growers and many others - have pledged support. The Agribusiness Council (ABC) is providing assistance in the form of training, association management and program development. IT is anticipated that ABC support will decline after FL/ABC becomes fully operational following its inaugural conference.

FL/ABC has received start-up financial support from individuals and firms at various levels according to interest, annualized turnover and/or total employment. A final formula will be determined by the board of directors. Grants and contributions from foundations, banks and donor agencies will be accepted - either directly to FL/ABC, or ABC (which has set up a separate account earmarked for FL/ABC), as contributions to ABC are tax-exempt. FL/ABC also anticipated financial support from registrations at events and subscriptions to its newsletter.

Florida Agribusiness Council

"Strengthening Agro-Industry's Voice in Florida through Association Action"