Dan Botts
Dan Botts

FFVA’s own Dan Botts will be inducted this month into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame, topping off a long list of honors he has already received for a 30-plus-year career devoted to specialty crop agriculture.

It’s an honor bestowed on men and women in our state who have committed their lives and work to promoting and protecting Florida agriculture. To a person, each Hall of Fame inductee has displayed personal passion and professional commitment to our industry.

They have served in a variety of capacities, including research, business and education. Their efforts have resulted in a stronger industry for the next generation.

Dan, who is FFVA’s vice president of industry resources, is known not just in Florida and the Southeast. His tireless work to ensure that growers continue to have access to essential crop-protection tools is respected internationally.

He has served as a strong, steady voice for Florida growers, who face steep pest and disease pressures and a regulatory environment that grows tougher every year.

The Florida Fertilizer and Agricultural Chemical Association nominated Dan for the Hall of Fame. In her nomination, executive director Mary Hartney wrote, “Dan’s greatest career achievements are in plowing through the regulatory minefields, paving the path for continued access to agchem inputs, serving as the growers’ voice at EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs and influencing the international debate on the phase-out of methyl bromide and the critical use exemption process that has allowed Florida growers continued access to this fumigant years after it would have been lost otherwise.

“He is indefatigable – the date stamps on his sent emails are a clue to just how long and hard he works every day. His is no 9-to-5 job – his is a vocation, a calling, a passion, a selfless devotion to representing growers.”

The effects of Dan’s work are felt throughout the industry as fruit and vegetable growers face one crippling plant pest or disease after another.

“Over the decades, Dan has been a major contributor to the efforts to solve Florida’s worst pest management issues – whether it was medfly eradication, getting rid of rodents overrunning Orange County, protocols for area wide psyllid spraying, rooting out root weevils, and so many more… He continues to work on the major issues of the day – controlling citrus greening and protecting both water quality and ag production through the adoption of science-based numeric nutrient criteria.”

Dan is well-known for the weeklong tour he organizes each spring for regulators from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies.

Many of these folks have never set foot on a farm. The tour gives them a chance to see a variety of production practices in locations across South Florida. They get a chance to talk one-on-one with growers and ask questions.

They return to their jobs with a better understanding of how the decisions they make on water and chemical registrations affect farmers’ ability to grow their crops. Dan was recognized for this effort with the state agriculture commissioner’s Ag-Environment Leadership Award in 2002.

He founded the FFVA subsidiary Third Party Registrations Inc., which secures registrations for crop-protection chemicals for minor crops – giving farmers access to tools they wouldn’t otherwise have.

To say these registrations have changed the landscape for growers for almost two decades is no understatement.

Yet Dan will be the first to tell you that in agriculture, you can only get things done by working with others, building coalitions that can speak with a stronger voice. ‘From the Triazine Network to the Minor Crop Farmer Alliance to the Crop Protection Coalition, the list of committees, task forces and advisory councils he has led or served on is too long to list here.

“I can attest to the distinguished reputation of Dan Botts among crop protection product registrants and regulators, as an agricultural industry leader, true scientist, negotiator, organizer and representative/spokesman for the Florida agriculture industry and its growers,” wrote Dr. Mel Kyle in support of Dan’s nomination.

Congratulations to Dan, who is a true professional and one of the reasons FFVA continues to be an indispensable resource for Florida specialty crop growers.

Lisa Lochridge is the director of public affairs for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association in Maitland. She can be reached at (321) 214-5206 or lisalochridge@ffva.com.