Agriculture

JOSE SMITH

CEO, COSTA FARMS, REDLAND

Costa is one of the top growers of ornamental plants in the nation, with more than 4,000 acres under cultivation and 5,000 employees, including workers in the Carolinas, Chile and the Dominican Republic. It grows more than 1,500 kinds of plants.

Smith has a bachelor’s and MBA degree from UF. He worked briefly as a financial analyst for Ryder System before moving to Costa 28 years ago.

Founded in the 1960s as a tomato and citrus grower, Costa Farms has expanded into a politically connected behemoth with more than $500 million in revenue. In recent years it has acquired a number of other growers, including Green Leaf Nursery, Delray Plants and Layman Wholesale Nurseries. In 2017, the Markel Corp. bought a majority interest in Costa Farms and related companies, including a trucking company, a grower that provides young plants to other finished growers and an international operation that provides materials for its operations. The Costa family — including Smith, Executive Vice President Maria Costa Smith and Executive Vice President Jose A. Costa — continues to run the business. The deal didn’t include a Costa subsidiary called Modern Health Concepts, one of five companies that got the first licenses from the state to produce and sell medical marijuana. In 2018, it sold Modern Health, which evolved into Curaleaf.

Mike Adams

Adams Ranch

ERNIE BARNETT

FLORIDA LAND COUNCIL

Michael Basore

TKM Bengard Farms

Robert Behr

Citrus World

ANN BLOUNT

FORAGE BREEDING AND GENETICS, UF/IFAS

Robert Buker

U.S. Sugar

RICK DANTZLER

CITRUS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION

MALLORY LYKES DIMMITT

LYKES BROTHERS

Pepe Fanjul Jr.

Florida Crystals

Lynetta Usher Griner

Usher Land & Timber

Mitch Hutchcraft

King Ranch

Mike Joyner

Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association

Dan Richey

Riverfront Packing

Jose Smith

Costa Farms

Jim Strickland

Strickland Ranch

Leslie Sturmer

University of Florida IFAS

Keith Wedgworth

Wedgworth Farms

Gary Wishnatzki

Wish Farms