At the June Florida Tropical Fish Farms Association’s annual Board and Membership meeting, I was elected to be your president. This is truly a great honor and I appreciate the confidence that the Board has vested in me. I want to thank John Skidmore for his three years of leadership and dedicated service during his tenor as President. In addition to myself, as President, the Directors elected Arie DeZwart as Vice President; Sandy Moore as Secretary and Jonathan Foster as Treasurer.
The annual meeting and dinner was a big success. There were 75 people in attendance. After all, where else can you get a great steak dinner for $5 while also enjoying the company of your fellow farmers? Not to mention, the large number of door prizes given away including 70,000 travel award points courtesy of Southwest Airlines.
At this year’s dinner, Craig Watson was inducted into the FTFFA Hall of Fame. Elsewhere in this newsletter is a brief bio of Craig’s many accomplishments in the industry. In addition to our Hall of Fame award, the Board has established a new "Art Rawlins Lifetime Achievement Award". This very special award will be given out occasionally to an individual who has made a significant impact or exhibited a high level of service to the Florida Tropical Fish Farming community.
The FTFFA Coop store continues to do well. It is stocked with a large variety of items with prices set as low as possible. The store’s mission is to serve the best interest of the farmer and not make a large profit. However, there are some overhead costs which must be covered. Now that our Store has proven that it is needed and is successful we have established a Coop Building Committee to start a search for a permanent home for the store. Garry David is chairman of the Building and Coop Committees. If you know of an existing building or a commercially zoned lot that would fill our needs in southwest Hillsborough Country please contact Garry.
The Aquatic Experience, after five successful shows in Chicago, is moving this year to Meadowlands, New Jersey. This is a huge market in the New York City area. Once again FTFFA will be represented with a “Wall of Fish” and a large display booth. We will again conduct a “People’s Choice Award” where attendees can vote for their favorite tank of fish and be entered in a door prize drawing to win a complete aquarium system. Congratulations to the 2017 "People's Choice Award" winners – first place – ORA for their clownfish; second place – 5D Tropicals for their Sturgeon and third place went to – Urban Tropicals for their Koi Angel Fish. Each of the above winners was presented with a plaque and a cash prize at our annual dinner.
I am planning a state tour over the next several weeks to visit of as many members as possible to get an up close look at the state of the industry. I would like to stop by and hear how the Association, the Aquaculture Lab, the Co-op Store and distributors can better serve you as a farmer.
I would like to emphasize that my door is always open to our members. I encourage anyone with concerns or suggestions to contact me and I can be reached by phone, e-mail, or simply dropping by my farm for a personal visit. In addition, all of our board and committee meetings are open to the general membership should any of you be interested in attending them.