J. Luis Rodriguez, founder and trade adviser of Florida Farmers Inc., Lake Worth, and longtime Florida grower, agriculture consultant and lobbyist, has died.

Rodriguez, former president of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Maitland, died in the early morning hours after midnight April 22 after a long battle with brain cancer. Funeral arrangements are pending.

The Cuba native’s condition, friends said, became inoperable due to earlier heart problems. Rodriguez had been hospitalized since February.

“He was the lead person as far as I’m concerned for Florida agriculture,” said Paul DiMare, president of the DiMare Co., Homestead, Fla.

Longtime Florida grower and agricultural consultant dies

Rodriguez

“He spoke for all of agriculture in the state and talked with congressmen, senators, governors,” DiMare said. “He was the guy that would do all the footwork you needed to do to communicate to people agriculture’s problems.  He contributed so much you couldn’t list all of it.”

Rodriguez, chairman and chief executive officer of Fort Lauderdale-based Trans-Tech-Ag Corp., an international trade consulting firm, advised political leaders, including presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. and Florida governor Jeb Bush. He worked with Rep. Mary Bono, R-Calif., to expand Florida’s country-of-origin legislation nationally, DiMare said.

Rodriguez came from a prominent family of pre-Castro Cuban growers that immigrated to south Florida and became large eggplant and vegetable growers through M&R Farms Inc., Boynton Beach, Fla. He also managed his family’s Central American and Caribbean vegetable operations 1967-89.

Survivors include a wife and son. Funeral arrangements are being made in Deerfield Beach, Fla.

DiMare said Rodriguez remained active in agricultural lobbying up until his illness.