About The Independent Funeral Directors of Florida
The Independent Funeral Directors of Florida, Inc. (IFDF) was organized in September 1992 by a small group of independents who felt that the Florida Funeral Directors Association (FFDA) was not advocating or protecting the entire funeral profession or consumers in Florida. The FFDA had joined with the Florida Cemetery Association (FCA) to write a legislative proposal, the Green Book, which would give conglomerates and cemeteries a competitive advantage over locally owned funeral homes. Further, their draft law severely decreased protection for consumers.
During the first few months the new Association grew and strengthened from twelve firms to more than eighty. A strong consumer advocate position was developed in cooperation with the AARP, Florida Retired Educators Association, Veterans and others. AS the IFDF grew in numbers, its influence in the Legislature was bolstered. Members came to Tallahassee week after week to fight for 100% trusting and 100% refundability in preneed. They fought diligently to ensure fair competition for all parts of the death care profession. The IFDF's efforts culminated with the Governor vetoing the original bill that passed the legislature. At IFDF's urging, the FFDA and the FCA compromised several positions which paved the way for a funeral/cemetery bill which was signed into law by the Governor on June 8, 1993.
During the heat of the battle over the proposed law, the FFDA, conglomerates and FCA spared no expense in sending hundreds of people to Tallahassee to march in the halls of the Capitol. They testified and worked against the positions of independents. Even Funeral Services, Inc. (FSI) spent thousands of dollars to retain lobbyists to oppose the efforts of the independents. Ultimately, a bill was passed with less than desirable language for trusting and refundability, but the IFDF won several battles. The independents were able to secure disclosure, two board appointments on the Board of Funeral and Cemetery Services for independent funeral directors, a 30-day free look on preneed contracts, prevention of stripping established trusts by conglomerates, elimination of tax exempt status for all businesses on cemetery property, reduction of transfer fees to $50 from the proposed $100 and a level playing field for everyone in the industry.
Bolstered by victories during the 1993 Legislative Session and an outstanding Summer Conference attended by 170 , the funeral directors began to re-examine short and long term goals of the IFDF. It was decided that the Independent Funeral Directors of Florida would continue to develop programs which would have a profound, influential and permanent influence on the funeral profession. The only reason for the existence of the IFDF is to pursue policies and programs to enhance and perpetuate independent funeral homes in Florida competitive with conglomerates. As the membership was told earlier during a general membership meeting, "We don't have to ask or cajole firms into joining the IFDF, we need to initiate programs that are so successful that independent funeral homes will want to join!" (Clyde Lankford, Past President). And join they have! Today we have well over 200 locations as members, and the IFDF continues to search for ways to serve.
In 1998 in response to a biting 60 Minutes episode at the need for ownership disclosure in funeral homes and cemeteries, the IFDF advocated disclosure legislation before the Florida Legislature. Again, the FFDA, FCA, and even FSI, opposed this consumer related amendment. WE WILL NOT GIVE UP!