Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam holds trade meetings in Panama

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Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and a group of Florida growers were officially welcomed to Panama this afternoon in a meeting with U.S. Ambassador Jonathan Farrar.

This is the first full day of Putnam’s trade development mission to the Central American country.

Delegation members also at the conference include Florida’s Natural Growers COO Dr. Robert Behr and International Sales Manager Joel Sellers, as well as Wish Farms Owner Gary Wishnatzki.

“It’s an honor for the delegation of growers and me to meet with Ambassador Farrar,” Putnam said in a statement released today. “We’re thrilled to be in Panama to promote some of the world’s best products, and we appreciate the warm welcome we’ve received from everyone.”

Prior to meeting, the group was briefed on the expansion of the Panama Canal and a tour of the expansion sites.

Tomorrow, Port Miami Director Bill Johnson will join the delegation for a series of meetings with senior Panamanian officials. they are also scheduled to meet with the leader of the American Chamber of Commerce in Panama (AMCHAM) and vice president of sales at Felipe Motta, a grocery/retail distributor. 

As a $100 billion industry, agriculture supports two million jobs in Florida, with more than $4 billion in exports per year to more than 160 other countries.

Panama is Florida’s fifth largest agricultural trading partner. Florida is also the leading supplier of fresh tomatoes, strawberries and sugarcane products to Panama.

Florida’s Panamanian agricultural exports have grown 70 percent in the past two years, to more than $168 million in 2012, creating nearly 1,800 new jobs for Floridians.

For more information on the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.