Updated: Feb 7
2020, a new year, a new decade and a new slate of FWA officers: Carr Hussey, Chairman of the Board; Trey Miller, First Vice President; Rob Gibson, Second Vice President; and Mark Bryan, President. On behalf of the gentlemen mentioned above, I would like to let our FWA members know we will be working towards continuing the traditions of so many good men and women before us and working to create a grass roots effort to grow our membership through the help of growers in our industry. If you are involved in the Florida watermelon industry you are aware of the continued increase of input cost to farm, increased pressure from across the border in April, May and parts of June, and well aware of crop failures due to a multitude of diseases, viruses and insects. Just one of the three mentioned above can put our industry in jeopardy of existence. Take the border crossings of fresh produce alone, with reports showing that by the year 2025, over 688,000 truckloads will enter our country thru Texas (Farm Bureau reported this study conducted by Texas A&M University). These new virus strains are more aggressive than ones we have dealt with in the past. Our IFAS pathologists can't yet get a handle on how they react to the chemical defenses we have available, much less how the virus might affect the quantity or quality of our watermelons. The land shortage most watermelon growers face yearly, due to urban sprawl, shows no sign of relief in the state of Florida. I could go on and on with the issues that we all face at one time or another as we grow our crop.
Your Florida Watermelon Association Board of Directors is going to take the opportunity afforded to them as growers, shippers, and allied members to work on such items as I have listed. This FWA board is loaded with passionate men and women who want our industry to continue for future generations. The board will be working to educate the consumer about the positives of supporting domestic watermelons during the times they are offered. We will be working closely with lawmakers on how urban sprawl and agriculture can coincide together as long as common sense and facts are used.
Through an aggressive research effort, we will work with the Universities and individuals who will put forth the effort to help control and find solutions to the diseases and insect pressures that we continue to battle. Collectively this board has the youth and experience to come together with viable solutions to keep our industry strong. As a member, you will continue to see good things happening with FWA. With all of the above being mentioned, now is when I ask you as a member to get or stay engaged in your local association. There is an awful lot of members who have done their time in fighting the good fight for our industry so that it remains viable for generations to come. Sometimes that fight goes unnoticed and underappreciated, but I am here to tell you the efforts put forth will not be forgotten.
The best way we can show appreciation for the ones who have come before us is to keep on working. Keep on working to maintain what has been implemented and keep on working to make our industry better. I have the feeling our voice is at the door step of being heard. Now is the time for our grassroots effort to push as hard as we can together to get a foot in that door. More and more agriculture commodity groups are having their message heard. FWA needs to be a strong part of how we want our message to be heard. If you are an active member, thank you! If you are a member who has tabled your involvement for the time being, I am asking you to enlist a new grower to FWA. Our industry and future depend on reloading our membership. Growers and Grassroots effort is what we are about. FWA has the right benefits that are being offered to make someone want to get involved.Please tell our story to the growers in Florida so we can reload and keep fighting this fight.
Your FWA will continue to offer a membership brochure that will explain our benefits, and can be obtained by contacting the FWA office at 239-658-1442. The brochure is a good way to get the grower to realize why he or she needs to be part of the Florida Watermelon Association with pertinent information included about joining our organization. If there is anything that I can help you with please reach out to me by phone or by email. Let's work hard together to continue to support our association and our industry so when we are done, our association and our industry are better than when we found it. Good luck this New Year and it is my hope it will be a profitable one for all of us who are fortunate to call the watermelon industry our way of life.
Mark Bryan, 863-381-2441, firstname.lastname@example.org