February 6, 2009
I don't know about you, but I've been freezing this past week! For someone who moved to Florida more than 30 years ago for the warm sun and sandy beaches, this latest cold front is like a blast from the past. This week, the National Weather Service has issued hard freeze warnings for many counties throughout Florida. While many of us are turning on our faucets and turning up our thermostats, farmers are worrying about livelihood of their crops.
My thoughts have been with DBPR's farm labor licensees, farmers and growers for their efforts to protect crops, such as green beans, strawberries and citrus. Only four to six hours of temperatures below 28 degrees can damage citrus crops. For more delicate vegetable crops, cold weather damage can occur even sooner.
For those of you who didn't know that DBPR was involved with farm labor, I'd like to share a little more about the program. The Bureau of Farm Labor ensures that Florida's farm workers are protected from harmful work situations and exploitation. The bureau conducts routine checks, inspections and investigations of farm labor contractor employees. For the protection of Florida's farm workers and agriculture industry, these inspections include field sanitation, payment of wages, and passenger vehicle safety.
Sixteen investigators have been placed in agriculturally significant areas of the state to ensure compliance with all applicable state and federal laws. Investigators are assigned to the following areas: Homestead, Ft. Pierce, Ft. Myers, Belle Glade/Clewiston, Immokalee/Labelle, Sebring Wauchula, Tampa, Orlando, Gainesville, and Quincy.
While you're bundling up during the cold snap, I ask that you keep our agriculture employees in your thoughts. They play a significant role in Florida’s economy.
Charles W. Drago