The Florida Department of Agriculture is alerting agricultural producers that highway restrictions have been eased so that they can quickly harvest and transport crops that are vulnerable to the freezing weather that continues to affect the state.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson on Tuesday, Jan. 5, requested that Gov. Charlie Crist declare a state of emergency and issue an executive order directing the state Department of Transportation to relax the weight, height, length and width restrictions for commercial vehicles transporting vulnerable crops to processing sites. Crist’s order took effect Tuesday, Jan. 5, and will remain in effect for 14 days from that date.
“Transporting the vulnerable crops to processing sites without delay is necessary to save them from destruction, and the relaxation of the restrictions on the weight, height, length and width for commercial vehicles transporting these crops is necessary to protect the agricultural interests of the state,” Crist says.
After reviewing data from across the state to assess the impact that the severe cold weather is having on crops, Bronson asked Crist to issue the executive order when it became apparent that the freezing weather would continue for several more days and that growers needed to harvest and transport crops as quickly as possible to help lessen their losses.
“This freezing weather has created a serious situation for our state’s agricultural producers, who now must rush to harvest their crops to prevent further losses,” Bronson says. “The temporary easing of highway restrictions enables farmers to more quickly transport their crops to processing facilities and help avoid financial disaster.”
Bronson has alerted organizations representing the state’s agricultural producers and trucking interests of the governor’s action so they can load and transport crops in accordance with the relaxed highway restrictions. “Florida’s growers produce nearly all our nation’s domestically produced fresh fruits and vegetables during the winter,” he says. “There is much at stake, both for our state’s farmers and for consumers all across the United States who count on Florida to provide them with fresh domestic produce in the winter.”
For more information about the weight, height, length and width restrictions for vehicles transporting crops on Florida’s highways, go towww.florida-agriculture.com.