Emergency Order Issued as Assessments Continue
(Tallahassee, FL/February 4, 2022/FDACS) — The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) had staff in the fields as producers continue to assess damages caused by recent freezing temperatures and work to salvage impacted produce. On Thursday, the Florida Department of Transportation issued an emergency order helping farmers impacted by freezing temperatures to move as much product as possible while it is still salvageable following a state of emergency being declared. Both the state of emergency declaration and emergency order were requested Wednesday by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on behalf of Florida’s farmers.
“I’m glad to see our emergency requests were granted expeditiously, helping our Florida farmers in their response and recovery efforts as their harvests were hurt by record cold temperatures,” said Commissioner Fried. “Our Department continues to work closely with our industry partners as damage assessments continue and will request further state and federal assistance as needed to help our producers respond to and recover from this extreme weather event. Together, we’ll keep Florida growing and our state’s agriculture industry strong.”
Today, FDACS Bureau Chief of Inspection Liz Miller was in South Florida to meet with farmers and view impacted fields as damages to fruit and vegetable harvests continue to be assessed by producers across the state. Photos from the fields can be viewed below.
Ahead of last weekend’s cold front, Commissioner Fried shared information with Florida producers to prepare ahead of the expected extreme weather, including available federal assistance programs, documentation requirements, and reporting deadlines. On Wednesday, after initial damage assessments were conducted, Commissioner Fried requested a state of emergency declaration on behalf of Florida’s farmers. Following her request, a state of emergency was declared for Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie, Sumter, and Volusia counties. This allowed the Florida Department of Transportation to issue an emergency order suspending size and weight restrictions for divisible loads for any vehicles transporting emergency equipment, services, supplies, and agricultural food commodities and citrus as recommended by the Commissioner of Agriculture, allowing the establishment of alternative size and weight restrictions for all such vehicles by permit.