Congressman Adam Putnam (R-FL) visited several citrus groves in Lake County last Thursday to assess cold damage. Putnam said he was surprised to see the extent of damage, noting damage not only to fresh fruit, but also to leaves and even some wood.
He met with winter vegetable farmers around the Belle Glade, Clewiston, and Moore Haven areas on Friday. “Horrific,” was a term Putnam used in describing the cold damage he saw. “Even sugarcane suffered major cold damage,” he said.
Last week, Putnam led a bipartisan appeal from the Florida Congressional delegation to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be prepared to respond quickly to an anticipated request from the Governor for disaster relief.
“It may be late next week before we will know the full extent of the damage,” said Putnam. “But the information I have received from individual growers and industry leaders makes it clear Florida agriculture has suffered one of the worst cold weather-related events in more than a decade.”
Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson has estimated about one-third of the fruit and vegetable crop has been lost due to the cold spell. On Friday, Gov. Charlie Crist requested a disaster declaration for the entire state of Florida due to extreme cold weather conditions.Click here to read his letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
On Monday, Putnam saw severely cold-damaged peppers and squash in Immokalee and toured several tomato fields in the Naples area.