It takes a special person to bring together representatives from across the specialty crop community, the crop protection industry and the federal agencies that regulate them. On Nov. 27 that person was Florida’s Dan Botts, and the event was a farewell reception for Botts held by the Minor Crop Farmer Alliance. Botts is retiring at year’s end as Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association’s vice president of industry resources, and as MCFA’s first and only Technical Committee chair to date.
Leaders, colleagues and friends from industry, registrants and regulators gathered to recognize Botts for his longtime work to maintain specialty crop growers’ access to safe and effective crop protection tools. Since MCFA was formed in 1991, Botts has guided the work of its Technical Committee. That has included advocating for U.S. specialty crop growers on Capitol Hill and Pennsylvania Avenue, as well as with foreign governments and agencies that regulate international trade.
In all of its work, MCFA and its Technical Committee have demanded that decisions regarding registration and re-registration of crop protection tools be made transparently and based on sound science. Through it all, Botts has been at the helm of the technical side of that work, employing a near encyclopedic knowledge that is matched by few people in the world.
MCFA Chairman Phil Korson (right) presents Botts (left) with a photo signed by Technical Committee members
Botts wrapped up his last meeting as Technical Committee chair that afternoon. “MCFA has high credibility across the regulatory and legislative front because we have maintained absolute honesty in everything we do based on facts and science,” he told committee meeting attendees. “We have been equal opportunity contrarian voices when we see things aren’t being done right, and we have offered solutions where we see problems. MCFA is as important today as it has ever been.”
MCFA Chairman Phil Korson, president of Cherry Marketing Institute, thanked Botts for his work, noting that it will take a team of committee co-chairs to follow in Botts’ footsteps.
“While the work you and this group have done is often hard to explain because it can be highly technical, what is easy to explain is that work has been absolutely vital to the future of the specialty crop industry,” Korson told Botts. “You did it completely, thoroughly and with total commitment to our growers.” He presented Botts with a basket of gifts representing a range of the specialty crops for which Botts has worked so passionately.
(Left to right): MCFA Vice Chairman Terry Humfeld of Cranberry Institute; MCFA Chairman Phil Korson of Cherry Marketing Institute; Botts; MCFA Secretary Jim Cranney of California Citrus Quality Council: and MCFA legal counsel Ed Ruckert of McDermott, Will & Emery.
Several dignitaries spoke at the reception, reflecting on Botts’ commitment and service to the specialty crop community, including senior officials from specialty crop producer groups, both of the federal agencies responsible for regulating crop protection tools, and the trade association representing pesticide registrants. Some of the industry attendees at the reception have worked with Botts for multiple decades.
“Dan Botts has worked tirelessly for the growers of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association as well as the entire minor use and specialty crop community. He has been an outstanding advocate on their behalf and his efforts resulted in tangible, positive change,” said Barbara Madden, vice president of scientific affairs for the Northwest Horticultural Council. Madden is the former minor use team leader at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Not one to leave a job unfinished, Botts hinted that he plans to continue to work in retirement on a couple of issues that are critical in his home state of Florida.