Jeff Borysiewicz, owner of the Florida Sun Grown Tobacco (FSG) farm has announced the Florida Department of Agriculture has provided a “Fresh from Florida” logo that can be used for Florida-grown tobacco. The logo is meant as a way to assure consumers FSG tobacco used in a product has been grown right in the State of Florida. In addition, J.C. Newman’s “The American”, a product that uses FSG-grown tobacco for its wrapper and is made in the State of Florida will be on display at the State Capitol in December.

Photo Credit: Cigar Coop

In a statement, Jeff explains the background behind the “Fresh from Florida” project:

If you’ve been following the storied journey of our Florida Sun Grown Tobacco Farm you know that it was our goal to resurrect the 175 year old tradition of growing prized cigar tobacco in the state of Florida. The Florida Department of Agriculture has been very helpful along the way providing expert soil analysis, tissue analysis and University of Florida, PHD Agronomists if needed. Now I must admit, these folks don’t have any hands on experience with growing cigar tobacco since no one had grown cigar tobacco in Florida in the past forty years, but nevertheless they have the tools, training and resources when it comes to plant science.

There are no cigar tobacco farms left in Florida for a simple reason…with all labor required to grow hand picked or primed, Cuban style cigar tobacco, it is just too expensive to grow when compared with the lower labor costs in Central and South America. The U.S. still grows plenty of the quicker to harvest stalk-cut broadleaf cigar tobacco in Connecticut and in a few places in Pennsylvania, but the more labor intensive American grown, single leaf, hand picked shade cigar tobacco industry in Connecticut is dead, and for the very same reasons…cost.

I’ve been in the cigar business for 23 years and it’s always been a pet peeve of mine how cigars with a light colored shade wrapper have been called Connecticut, no matter what county they are grown in. No other industry would have allowed this. For example, you simply can’t take grapes from France, plant them in Ecuador and then make a wine there and call it French. The same rule would apply to Scotch whisky, Bourbon, Tequila or Champagne. Same goes for expensive varieties of coffee like Jamacian Blue Mountain and Hawaiian Kona Coffee. You can’t take a Jamacian or Hawaiian coffee seed, grow it in Nicaragua and call it Kona. But in the cigar industry, there is a plethora of cigars marketed and labeled “Connecticut” even though there is NOTHING Connecticut about it. Sure, some manufacturers will say they use seed from Connecticut and grow it in another country and therefore it’s OK. So since our Florida Sun Grown tobacco is grown from Cuban seed, does this make our FSG cigars Cuban? Of course not. What’s even more comical is that Connecticut shade tobacco is actually grown from a variety of seed that was originally imported from the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.

Ironically, several years ago, Cuba’s Habanos S.A. started filing global cease and desist orders to any cigar company that used the word “Habanos” in their name in order to protect Cuba’s name and country of origin. Unfortunately, the tobacco farmers and a few politicians in Connecticut recently tried to address the misuse of the word “Connecticut” in the cigar industry but after letting the mislabeling to go on for nearly two decades, it’s a little hard to put that genie back in the bottle. Pretty sad that the communists in Cuba protected their country of origin better than we did in America.

Florida learned its lesson about labeling back in the 1970’s when ship loads of cheap Brazilian orange juice was imported in bulk and then packaged in Florida and labeled and marketed as Florida orange juice. The Florida farmers fought back and thankfully our state through the Fresh From Florida program protects and promotes the name “Florida” on its agriculture products. You may have seen the Fresh From Florida logo on some of Florida’s most prized commodities such as orange juice, citrus, strawberries, blueberries, lobster and those delicious stone crab claws. So I’m happy to share the news that the Florida Depart of Agriculture has created and provided us with a “Fresh From Florida” logo, just for Florida grown tobacco. All of our cigar tobacco is inspected at the farm by the USDA and a Certificate of Origin is issued by the state for all our Florida Sun Grown tobacco. So rest assured, you are guaranteed that if a cigar has FSG and “Fresh From Florida” on the label, that tobacco was grown right here in America, in the great state of Florida.

Photo Credit: Cigar Coop

As for J.C. Newman’s “The American”, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services provided some additional context on the event.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is working to secure packaging of products that are made with Florida commodities.

The event is the Florida Farm Bureau Taste of Agriculture and Legislative Appreciation Day on December 10, 2019 in Tallahassee. The idea is to set up displays of products that are made from Florida products for event attendees to view. There is no sampling at the event – product is strictly for display purposes to highlight Florida items that may potentially be sold in a “Florida-centric store”.

Attendees are legislators and Capitol staff as well as agriculture industry for the most part. The public is invited to the event that takes place in the plaza between the Old Capitol and New Capitol on December 10th. Displays will be set up by our staff and arranged with other items that are produced in the state. We are looking for a good representation of what Florida has to offer from all lines of consumer products. Currently, Wine, Olive Oil, citrus gift fruit, beer, rum, whiskey, alpaca and sheep yarn, canned fruit, jellies, pickles, soaps, honey, candles and tea are among list of items that we have for display which is planned to be somewhat rustic in design. It will be set up in a 20’ X 20’ tent on site.

There will be no product for sale and the amount of product requested is minimal and would be retained for future display opportunities. Samples that capture the essence of Florida agriculture would be perfect for the intended display purpose. We are also trying to capture as many commodities from Florida as we can to show the diversity of Florida’s agricultural.