Meet the Staff

Mike Stuart, President

Mike Stuart President FFVA Florida Fruit Vegetable AssociationMike Stuart has worked in the produce industry throughout his career. Beginning as a produce merchandiser for a large Southern California supermarket chain, Stuart has served for more than two decades as an association executive representing growers and shippers in Florida, California and Arizona.

Stuart holds leadership positions with numerous industry groups at the national and international level. Currently he is co-chair of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance. He is a member of United Fresh Produce Association's Government Relations Council, and he serves on the Center for Produce Safety's advisory board. Stuart also is a board member for the Alliance for Food and Farming. He has served on the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee and the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade, a private-sector group that advises the Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative. He also was a member of the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Fruits and Vegetables, and was chairman of the committee during the negotiation of both the Uruguay Round and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Stuart also has served on the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association's board of directors and as chairman of the Produce for Better Health Foundation.

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Martha Tucker, Assistant to the President

TuckerAs executive assistant to the president, Martha Tucker serves as liaison to FFVA’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors. She also serves as the meeting and event manager, overseeing the association’s various functions and the co-coordination and planning of FFVA’s annual convention.  She is a member of the Professional Convention Management Association.

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Dan Botts, Vice President, Industry Resources

Dan Botts Vice President of Industry Resources Dan Botts is vice president of industry resources, overseeing FFVA’s pest management , water and natural resources , and food safety and sustainability activities. He represents grower interests on issues as diverse as pest management and crop production practices and their impact on the environment to food safety and international marketing access related to crop production needs.

He holds leadership roles in several industry coalitions, including the Crop Protection Coalition and the Minor Crop Farmer Alliance. He also serves as a representative to EPA's Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee and USDA's Specialty Crop Advisory Committee.

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Mike Carlton, Director of Labor Relations 

Mike Carlton Director of Labor RelationsAs FFVA's Labor Relations  director, Mike Carlton's primary responsibility is representing the association in labor related legislative efforts on the federal level.  He advises growers on employment records, worker training, housing, OSHA regulations and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Carlton also is responsible for coordinating members’ use of the H-2A guest worker program and assisting with compliance efforts with labor laws affecting agriculture.

Carlton also leads the Agricultural Labor Relations Forum held annually in Orlando. Agricultural employers from across the country attend to learn about wage and hour compliance, the Worker Protection Standard, and the H-2A program. 

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Butch Calhoun, Director of Government Relations

Butch Calhoun Director of Government Relations Butch Calhoun, director of Government Relations , promotes the interests of Florida specialty crop agriculture in Tallahassee, providing grower members with direct regulatory assistance, legislative representation and information. Calhoun and his staff also work at the policy level with and monitor the activities of the Florida Legislature and state and local regulatory agencies to safeguard, strengthen and improve the interests of agriculture.

Calhoun also serves as a member of the Agriculture Coalition, the Coalition to Protect Florida's Economy, and Floridians for Smarter Growth.

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Mike Aerts, Director of Production and Supply Chain Management

Mike Aerts Director of Production and Supply Chain Management

Mike Aerts focuses on supply chain issues, including two critical areas of importance to FFVA members: pest management and food safety. Aerts also leads FFVA's Agricultural Exchange Management Group (consisting of the Sunshine Sweet Corn Growers of Florida, the Sweet Corn Growers Exchange and the Florida Vegetable Exchange). This group provides grower/shippers with critical market and harvest reports to help them maximize returns for their crops.

Mike also serves as president of Third Party Registrations Inc., an FFVA subsidiary that manages the registration process under liability limitation for specific pest management tools that would not otherwise be available to FFVA producer members. 

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Lisa Lochridge, APR, Director of Public Affairs

Lisa Lochridge Director of Public Affairs

Lisa Lochridge serves as director of the Public Affairs Division, managing FFVA's communication with its members and the media on topics ranging from food safety to immigration reform. She directs a variety of communication channels, including the association's website, online community, blog content, weekly newsletters and member bulletins.

Lochridge also is responsible for planning and coordinating FFVA's annual convention.

Specializing in media relations and crisis communication, she is a former veteran journalist, holding numerous local news editor positions at the Orlando Sentinel for 21 years. She is nationally accredited in public relations.

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Kerry Kates, Director of Water and Natural Resources

Kerry Kates Director of Water and Natural Resources

Kerry Kates serves as director of water and natural resources within FFVA’s Industry Resources group.  He is responsible for monitoring and working with five regional water management districts, state agencies, local municipalities and the Florida Legislature, and advising FFVA members of regulatory and legislative actions related to water resources, land use and property rights.

Kates spent five years as a civil analyst and project manager in the Orlando office of Kimley-Horn and Associates, a nationwide engineering and land-planning firm. He is a licensed professional engineer and LEED-accredited professional. 

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Peter Chaires, Director of Association Services

Peter Chairs director of association services

As FFVA's director of Association Services, Chaires serves as Executive Vice President of Florida Citrus Packers and Executive Director of New Varieties Development & Management Corp. NVDMC seeks to acquire, evaluate, license, sub-license, protect and manage proprietary citrus varieties on behalf of the Florida grower. 

NVDMC is funded through contract with the Florida Department of Citrus and has four varieties under commercial contract (IFAS Sugar Belle, UCR Tango, IFAS Valquarius, U.S. Early Pride) and 16 varieties under evaluation contract (from California, South Africa, Australia, Japan, and Italy). NVDMC supports targeted research – with about 75 percent of its budget going to variety development research at UF and USDA.

With the Florida Citrus Packers, Chaires manages business development, market access and food safety projects.

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Sonia Tighe, Director of Membership; Executive Director, Florida Specialty Crop Foundation

Sonia Tighe is director of membership for FFVA. She also manages the Florida Specialty Crop Foundation, the 501(c)3 organization for FFVA. The Foundation focuses on research, education and philanthropy in the Florida specialty crop industry. Tighe partners with UF/IFAS and USDA on research grants which benefit Florida growers, and administers a scholarship program for children of migrant workers.

Additionally, Tighe directs the Emerging Leader Development Program, targeted to members of FFVA ages 25 to 40. She is chair of the Florida Ag Expo Committee, and is a member of the Florida chapter of National Agri-Marketing Association and the RCMA Christmas Card Steering Committee.

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Jill Dunlop, Food Safety & Sustainability Manager

Jill Dunlop Manager of Food Safety and Sustainability

Jill Dunlop is responsible for providing support to FFVA members in developing and implementing food safety and sustainability programs. She also provides training for and assistance with third-party audits as well as coordinating and conducting food safety and sustainability education and outreach.

In addition, Dunlop provides support for other regulatory activities, including development, implementation and measurement of members’ Best Management Practices, Third Party Registrations Inc., Worker Protection Standard outreach and training, as well as crisis management related to food safety. She also develops and implements GlobalGAP and GFSI food safety certification programs on behalf of membership.

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Alyssa Badalamenti, Communications Manager

Alyssa BadalamentiAlyssa Badalamenti serves as Communications Manager, ensuring the latest news, information and resources are being communicated and supplied regularly to FFVA members through developing and managing content including FFVA's website, newsletters and news digests, important member bulletins, mobile app, and online community forum, FFVA Connect. 

Badalamenti is also responsible for managing FFVA's social media channels to cultivate relations between the association, its members and the public at large in advocating for the specialty crop industry.

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If you are interested in joining FFVA as a producer member or as an industry trade associate member, please contact FFVA via email or at (321) 214-5200.