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New Officials Hear Farmers Concerns

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Posted: Friday, February 1, 2019 1:00 am | Updated: 9:10 am, Mon Feb 4, 2019.

In order to assist South Dade farmers, Dade County Farm Bureau called on Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried to join the farming community for an educational forum. Area farmers were encouraged to express the major issues that threaten their farms existence.

The first item mention was unfavorable trade agreements with Mexico that allows imported produce to enter our country at prices far below our cost of production. Pointed out were the Mexican advantages of cheap labor, lack of product quality control, government subsidies and contraband (drugs and illegal aliens) smuggled in containers shipped from Mexico.

Second on the list was control of the amount of water sent south from Lake Okeechobee that when left released is flooding growing fields and groves. There is a continued debate on the demand for more water for the National Parks, while farmers fear the threat of flooding from the releases. Farmers feel flooding can be contained by releasing into Florida Bay or a subterranean curtain wall is built to keep the additional water west of the farming areas.

The third item discussed was related to immigration and the availability of affordable labor. Farmers need workers to pick crops and want legal workers.

Additionally discussed was promotion of 'Fresh from Florida'. Funding for this program was severely cut and the need for it to be restored was supported. Farmers feel educating the consumer is a must to convince citizens of the United States of the importance of eating a healthier product grown under the controls of our industry. It was expressed that as a Nation, we should not be put in a situation where our country depends on foreign countries for our food supply.

At the end of the meeting, many farmers expressed confidence that these two new elected officials will do their best to educate members of Congress to the plight of the Florida farm industry, and work to instigate postive changes.

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