Florida freeze lifts ag truck weights
Representatives of Florida's agricultural industry asked the state government on Tuesday to declare a state of emergency due to freezing temperatures this week that threaten to wipe out millions of dollars in crops.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Charles Bronson and State Sen. Carey Baker, among others, also called for a temporary lifting of regulations placing weight restrictions on trucks. Lifting the weight limits allows farmers to move more product quicker from fields to processing centers to prevent excessive freeze-related damage.
Gov. Charlie Crist late Tuesday signed the order to lift the truck weights, which will remain in effect for 14 days.
“Florida’s growers produce nearly all our nation’s domestically produced fresh fruits and vegetables during the winter,” Bronson said in a statement. “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.
The severe cold weather threatens many of Florida’s crops, including bell peppers, snap beans, cabbage, celery, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, escarole, grapefruit, lettuce, oranges, variety peppers, radishes, squash, strawberries, tangerines, tomatoes, sugarcane, a wide variety of horticulture, and aquaculture crops such as tropical fish. In many cases, producers won’t know the full extent of damage for several weeks.
For more information about the weight, height, length and width restrictions for vehicles transporting crops on Florida’s highways, visit www.Florida-Agriculture.com.