Fritz Roka is the director of Florida Gulf Coast University's Center of Agribusiness. Goals of the Center are to develop an undergraduate minor degree in Agribusiness and to enhance awareness of the importance of agribusinesses to Southwest Florida’s economy. Prior to joining FGCU in August 2018, Fritz was an Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Florida’s Southwest Florida Research and Education Center - Immokalee. His extension and research interests include farm management issues and management of agricultural labor. From 2010 to 2017, Fritz and his team designed and implemented a training program for Florida Farm Labor Supervisors.
Fritz is a Maryland native, earning BS and MS degrees in Agricultural Economics from the University of Maryland. He Piled it higher and Deeper when he earned the terminal degree in Economics at North Carolina State University. He has been working in Southwest Florida since 1996.
Areas of Expertise (6)
Agricultural Economic Impact
Ecological Value of Agriculture
North Carolina State University: Ph.D., Economics 1993
University of Maryland: M.S., Agricultural Economics 1988
University of Maryland: B.S., Agricultural Economics 1977
- Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) : Member
- Southern Agricultural Economics Association (SAEA) : Member
- International Farm Management Association (IFMA) : Member
- Florida State Horticultural Association : Member
- Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) : Advisory Committee Member
- IHN Roska Citrus LLC. : President
Selected Media Appearances (3)
Farmers are seeking more temporary H-2A workers, and keeping them longer
Fritz Roka talks about the H-2A program and its impact on citrus growers in Florida.
Will first-time Florida permit be palmetto berry industry game-changer?
Fritz Roka discusses the commercial potential of Florida's berry industry,
How to avoid a farmworker-related scandal
Fritz Roka talks about training and licensing for farm supervisors.
Selected Event Appearances (4)
Economic Impact of Agriculture in Southwest Florida
Leadership Collier Class Feb 2019
Speaker in the Business Section
Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference Savannah, GA, Jan 2019
Farm Labor Management in Southwest Florida – Challenges and Opportunities
21 st Congress of the International Farm Management Association Edinburgh, UK, July 2017
Costs and Benefits of Foliar Nutritional Amendments – Evidence From a 5-year Trial
International Research Conference on Huanglongbing Orlando, FL, Feb 9 2015
Research Focus (1)
Farm Management and Agricultural Labor Issues
Dr. Roka’s research and outreach activities have focused on farm management and agricultural labor issues as they relate to citrus, vegetables, and sugarcane produced in Southwest Florida. His citrus program assessed the economic ramifications of citrus greening and the potential of mechanical harvesting. Since 2010, Roka and a team have designed and initiated a training program for farm labor supervisors. This program teaches farm labor supervisors the regulatory responsibilities associated with managing migrant and seasonal farm workers.
Selected Research Grants (4)
Farm Labor Contractor Training Program
USDA State Block Grant program (2 separate grants) $329,658 combined total
2010 - 2013
Project director with 3 co-PIs.
Citrus Mechanical Harvesting – Economic Feasibility and Extension
Florida Dept of Citrus and State Citrus Initiative $912,000 combined total
1999 - 2014
Effect of Cattle Grazing on Water Quality, Buck Island Project
2001 - 2003
Project director with 6 co-PIs.
Demographics of Farmworkers
Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council $35,000
1997 - 1998
Project directory with 1 co-PI.
Selected Articles (3)
Roka, FM and Zhengfei Guan
Reliance on foreign guest workers, rising minimum wages, and corporate social responsibility are three trends emerging within the Florida agricultural economy, particularly among labor-intensive specialty crop farms. These trends are creating higher costs and pushing employers into new management relationships with their farmworkers. On one hand, higher costs compromise the competitive position of agricultural operations. On the other hand, new management strategies could increase overall worker productivity, offset some administrative costs associated with labor management, and create new avenues of market access for their products. The success to which agricultural employers adjust to these trends with cost effective management strategies likely will determine their long-term economic success.
Roka, FM, S Simnitt, and D Farnsworth
Agricultural employers increasingly are turning to the foreign guest worker program, known as H-2A, as a means to secure a legal workforce. This paper outlines the procedural aspects and costs of recruiting and hiring H-2A workers. Cost data is from a 2014 survey of citrus harvesters and defines pre-employment costs as filing fees, advertising, surety bonds, travel, and housing. The pre-employment costs associated with guest workers are estimated to be nearly $ 2,000 per worker. The survey was motivated by the ‘60-minute rule’ imposed by the U.S. Department of Labor prior to the 2012-13 citrus harvesting season. Cost data were collected across two crop season, 2012-13 and 2013-14, to analyze the cost implications of the rule. We found that the 60-minute rule significantly increased filing fees. These fees, however, represent a very small share of total costs and overall pre-employment costs associated with the H-2A program did not significantly change.
Roka, Fritz, Carlene Thissen, Paul Monaghan, Maria Morera, Sebastian Galindo- Gonzalez, and Jose Tovar-Aguilar
This article outlines a four-step model for developing a training program for farm labor supervisors. The model draws on key lessons learned during the development of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Farm Labor Supervisor Training program. The program is designed to educate farm supervisors on farm labor laws and to support compliance with workplace regulations critical for the safety of farmworkers and the economic sustainability of agricultural industries. Attentive to building partnerships, assessing needs, tailoring the curriculum, and conducting evaluations, the model can be applied elsewhere to address the farm labor issues confronted by specialty crop growers in other states.