Though the economy has slowed, growth pressures continue, while the local food and small farms movements gather steam. Planners are working to understand and address these issues. But agriculture is different. From agricultural enclaves under growth management law, to the Right to Farm Act, to the numerous preemptions against regulation by local government, Florida law and policymakers treat agriculture differently. After discussing the laws that planners should be aware of, the panelists with discuss the challenges, pitfalls, and opportunities that agriculture presents. Special emphasis will be placed on agriculture at the rural-urban fringe.
We have a great panel put together to discuss the issues that the planning community needs to know about. Here are the biographies for our panelists:
Phil Leary is a City Commissioner in Palatka. Previously, Phil served as the Planning Director for Clay and Putnam Counties and as Director of Government & Community Affairs for the Florida Farm Bureau Federation, the largest general farm membership organization in the state of Florida. While there, he represented Farm Bureau policy positions on local government land use, growth management, and environmental regulation. Phil continues his work on these issues at his government consulting firm. Phil received a B.S. in Agriculture from UF and completed post graduate work in Public Administration, Policy, and Planning at UNF.
Pat Steed is the Executive Director of the Central Florida Regional Planning Council. She has served as Planning Director for Polk County and the City of Lakeland, the MPO Coordinator, and as a Project Director for a national consulting firm. Pat has served on statewide committees, including DCA’s Rural Land Stewardship Advisory Committee. Currently, Pat is managing the Heartland 2060 visioning effort and development of a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development, which covers over half of Florida’s productive agricultural land. These efforts recognize the importance of viable agri-business for economic sustainability, including alternative crops and biofuels.
Joseph Gocsik received his Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources from The Ohio State University in 1996. In 1997 Joseph was hired as the Timber Forester for the 150,000 acre Withlacoochee State Forest where he was able to learn the “hands on” history of management practices in Florida and was introduced to the majority of habitats that currently exist. After serving the public for 2 ½ years Joseph chose to join a private forestry consulting firm in 2000 and served as a senior consulting forester and eventual division manager until January of 2008. In February of 2008 Joseph created Forest Environmental Solutions, LLC “FES” in hopes of better serving client needs, while providing them the best management services possible.
Jake Cremer is a fifth generation owner of timberlands in Florida, and he grew up working in his family’s timber operations. He served the Department of Community Affairs as a Gubernatorial Fellow and has received FAPA’s Outstanding Student Planner Award. Currently, he represents landowners in interactions with government at Bricklemyer Smolker & Bolves in Tampa. He assisted in the defense of property rights before the U.S. Supreme Court in the controversial Stop the Beach Renourishment case. Jake received a BA in Economics & Business from Rhodes College. He holds a JD and MSP in urban and regional planning with a certificate in real estate development from FSU.