TAMPA — Tickets are now on sale for the 43rd annual Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame banquet, which will honor five inductees who have made invaluable contributions to Florida agriculture. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on Feb. 15, where this year’s inductee will be recognized along with the Class of 2021 inductees, as last year’s banquet was canceled due to COVID-19.
The banquet, which each year celebrates the accomplishments of industry leaders who have served in research, education and business, will be held in the Entertainment Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. The reception begins at 5 p.m., with the dinner and program following at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $75 per person, and tables of eight are available. Mentor sponsorship tickets, which allow youth in agriculture to attend the event at no cost and meet industry leaders, are also available. Tickets can be purchased online at https://floridaaghalloffame2022.eventbrite.com or by calling 813-230-1918. Online ticket sales close Feb. 8.
“After two years, it is exciting to come together once again to recognize the achievements of five outstanding honorees who have made significant and lasting contributions to Florida agriculture,” said Ray Hodge, president of the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame Foundation. “We look forward to welcoming the industry back to celebrate our 2021-2022 honorees.”
The 2021-2022 inductees bring the total who have been honored to 176. They are:
• John L. Hundley (2022). Hundley has been an active part of Florida’s agricultural community for more than five decades. A native of Pahokee, he worked on his father’s farm before founding Hundley Farms, Inc., with his wife, Patsy. The enterprise began on 400 acres of leased land, growing sweet corn and radishes. Today the operation consists of about 16,000 acres in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA), central Florida, and Bainbridge, Ga., where they grow sugarcane, sweet corn, green beans, radishes, cabbage, field corn, rice, cattle, cotton, peanuts, soybeans and assorted winter produce. The Hundley Farms team now includes their son, John Scott Hundley, their daughter and son-in-law, Krista and Eric Hopkins, and grandson Cooper Hopkins. A longtime member of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative, Hundley has been on its board of directors for 34 years and served as its chairman of the board for seven years. He has served on the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District and has been active in numerous other groups.
• Reggie Brown (2021). After 12 years as a UF/IFAS Extension Service agent in various capacities and a 10-year stint at the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association as marketing and membership director, Brown was named executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Exchange while at the same time leading the Florida Tomato Committee and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange. As the face of the Florida tomato industry, Brown has led on numerous fronts, including unfair Mexican trade practices, tomato food safety, and the effort to retain the use of methyl bromide as a crop-protection tool and stood at the forefront of fostering fair trade for the tomato industry and resolving trade disputes. He successfully worked to gain consensus among growers, regulators, and other stakeholders to develop statewide food safety standards for Florida fresh market tomatoes. Those efforts became the benchmark for the development of the national produce safety guidance. As chairman of the Crop Protection Coalition, Brown was the voice of the industry nationally and internationally. He served on the delegation to the Montreal Protocol Treaty negotiations for ten years during the phase-out of methyl bromide, a decades-old component of pest management for many Florida crops, vigorously protecting growers’ interests.
• Bobby McKown (2021). McKown spent his career championing and defending Florida agriculture and the Florida citrus industry’s health and well-being. Taking the helm of the state’s largest citrus growers association as Executive Vice President/CEO of the Florida Citrus Mutual, McKown led Florida’s citrus industry through a critical period. Over the course of his career, he earned a reputation as an expert in international trade negotiations and was appointed by five presidential administrations to every trade committee, task force, and advisory position of any influence. He participated in developing four different trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement for Tariff and Trade (GATT). He not only protected Florida citrus growers from unfair trade practices, but he also worked to gain the best results for the state’s agriculture industry.
• John Stitt (2021). Stitt realized early in his career that the agricultural ecosystem in Southwest Florida was vastly different from that in Central Florida and the region around Lake Okeechobee. He saw a great need for research in beef cattle pastures, citrus, and sandland sugarcane production and, through his vision, led to the development of the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee. Today, the center provides cutting-edge research for citrus, vegetables, water quality, soil science, and weed science. In addition to serving on numerous advisory committees to the Immokalee center, Stitt has been extensively involved in industry organizations, including the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and Florida Farm Bureau. Stitt led the charge to establish the South Florida Agricultural Council, and with the cooperation of the legislative delegation, the council secured $2.39 million in funding for construction. In 1988, the Board of Regents, the UF/IFAS leadership, and the council developed a five-year plan to complete the staff funding. The result was the opening of a fully-funded research center staffed with a director and 12 researchers.
• Dr. Wayne Smith (2021). Smith’s contributions to Florida agriculture encompass his lifelong devotion to education and research and forestry passion. Smith, a native of Marianna, and graduate of the University of Florida, returned to his alma mater in 1964, advancing through the academic ranks as a professor, director, and finally, professor emeritus. In retirement, he served as interim dean for UF/IFAS Research and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. He proved to be a groundbreaking educator, researcher, and administrator. Smith played a crucial role in developing and implementing the first Best Management Practices (BMPs) for silviculture. BMPs soon spread across Florida’s agricultural industry and changed the face of agriculture. His research in fertilization led to practices that increased pine forest productivity by up to 300%. And his pioneering work in bioenergy made Florida a leader and earned accolades from the U.S. Department of Energy. Smith’s work has been recognized around the globe, including an audience with royalty. He has been a consultant for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and has been called upon to testify before Congress as a staunch supporter of agriculture.
For more information about the 2021-2022 Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame honorees and previous inductees, visit FloridaAgHallofFame.org. Nominations for 2023 are currently being accepted. Nomination forms can also be found on the Hall of Fame website.