Reggie Brown has had a profound and lasting effect on the tomato industry in Florida and beyond. Brown’s family is well-known in Alachua County for its multigenerational Brown’s Farm and legendary roadside produce stand. After 12 years as a UF/IFAS Extension Service agent in various capacities and a 10-year stint at the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association as marketing and membership director, Brown was named executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Exchange while at the same time leading the Florida Tomato Committee and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange.
As the face of the Florida tomato industry, Brown has led on numerous fronts, including unfair Mexican trade practices, tomato food safety, and the effort to retain the use of methyl bromide as a crop-protection tool and stood at the forefront of fostering fair trade for the tomato industry and resolving trade disputes. He successfully worked to gain consensus among growers, regulators, and other stakeholders to develop statewide food safety standards for Florida fresh market tomatoes. Those efforts became the benchmark for the development of the national produce safety guidance. As chairman of the Crop Protection Coalition, Brown was the voice of the industry nationally and internationally. He served on the delegation to the Montreal Protocol Treaty negotiations for ten years during the phase-out of methyl bromide, a decades-old component of pest management for many Florida crops, vigorously protecting growers’ interests.