agriculture

Miami Herald

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried ran on a platform of what she called 'the three W’s': weapons, water and weed. Within months of her swearing in, it’s that last W that’s already generating a buzz around the state. 

Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition / Courtesy

For the past 68 years the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition has brought fun amusement park rides, funnel cakes and magic shows to South Florida. But it's more than just fun; organizers also want to educate kids on the agriculture industry. This year's fair, which has been going since March 14, is training the future generation of farmers.

University of Florida researchers have made some headway in their quest for cultivating vanilla plants that would thrive in the state.


Hemp in Florida is one step closer to legality. A measure legalizing hemp production passed its first legislative hurdle Wednesday.

Eric Perez and his wife, Mari, live with their five children in the Wenatchee Valley in central Washington state. Their house is just feet from an orchard. A couple of years ago, the kids were having an Easter egg hunt in the yard when they smelled something "plasticky," Perez remembers — like "rotten eggs."

Perez says they realized the orchard must have been sprayed while the family was away for their Easter lunch.

Perez says they got stomachaches, started throwing up and having trouble breathing and got diarrhea and scratchy throats.

Lawmakers unveiled the much-anticipated farm bill compromise Monday night, ending the months-long impasse over whether a critical piece of legislation that provides subsidies to farmers and helps needy Americans buy groceries could pass before the lame-duck session concludes at the end of the year.

Five years ago, Finca El Valle, a small, family-run coffee farm south of Antigua, Guatemala, was producing 140,000 pounds of superior-quality Arabica for a select handful of America's premier specialty-coffee roasters.

Florida's Agriculture Commissioner isn't just the chief champion of oranges, avocadoes and other products sprouting from soil in the Sunshine State. The post also is responsible for gun licenses, consumer complaints and has a role to play in the restoration of felon rights -assuming Amendment 4 fails to get at least 60 percent support in November.

It is a statewide elected position with several candidates vying for their party's nomination in the primary election of Aug. 28. 

Two weeks ago, Celestino Hilario Garcia was pulling out of his driveway in Delano, Calif., on his way to work in the fields. That's when three SUVs and two cars with flashing lights closed him in on both sides.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents pulled Hilario Garcia out of the truck. He was arrested, and deported back to Mexico by the end of the day.

CAROL VANHOOK / CREATIVE COMMONS VIA FLICKR

The Florida citrus industry has experienced its worst harvest season since World War II as it continues to recover from Hurricane Irma.   

Orange production is off more than 34 percent from the last growing season, according to the News Service of Florida, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest forecast numbers show no improvement in that figure over the last month. 

Peter Haden / WLRN

Palm Beach County sugarcane growers have a new use for their crop: tableware.

Tellus Products’s new state-of-the-art facility in Belle Glade uses leftover sugarcane fiber, or bagasse, to produce biodegradable plates, bowls and take-out containers.

Gov. Rick Scott cut the ribbon on the 120,000-square-foot facility at a ceremony Tuesday.

Frustration is growing among Florida citrus farmers awaiting the distribution of $2.36 billion in federal disaster-relief money for agriculture losses sustained in Hurricane Irma.

The state’s highest court will not weigh in on Floridians’ right to front yard vegetable gardens. But the food fight isn’t over in the state capital. 

Amy Green / WMFE

Steve Messam describes his city, Belle Glade, as having two main exports:

"Sugar," he said, "and wide receivers."

Local lore has it that National Football League standouts -- including Super Bowl-winning wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Santonio Holmes -- hone their speed by chasing rabbits through burning fields, as controlled fires strip sugarcane of excess leaves in preparation for the harvest.

The cold front that moved through Florida this past weekend brought a light dusting of snow in some portions of the western Panhandle and even some light frost in Southwest Florida, but the cooler temperatures left Florida agriculture operations relatively unscathed. 

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