Regina Thomas, co-organizer of the Florida Agriculture Financial Management Conference held Nov. 2-3 near Orlando, provides an overview of the event and discusses its origins. Thomas is senior vice president/director of financially related services for Farm Credit of Central Florida.
Thomas says the conference began eight years ago during the recession that rocked the entire U.S. economy. “We had a lot of nursery growers and farmers that were struggling, and financial management was really something that they needed to help pull through,” she says. The conference has a generic format, without focusing on any commodity, to give all agriculturists worthwhile financial information.
“We always have a tax strategy speaker,” Thomas says. “We always have a financial management speaker.” And, she adds, the conference usually has information about succession planning and encourages young farmers to attend.
Thomas says solar energy was an interesting topic at this year’s conference. “We’re just now seeing solar get to be one of those things that is starting to pop up,” she says. “That’s definitely an alternative source of revenue for farmers.”
A pre-conference tour included visits to a blueberry farm, a blueberry packing facility and a citrus grove.
Although the conference’s content is applicable to all of agriculture, sound financial management has become increasingly important to Florida citrus growers since the devastating disease HLB was discovered in the state in 2005. Production costs have soared as growers struggle to stay profitable in the face of HLB.
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