Is your backyard citrus tree failing? The U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed a new iPhone app that can that can probably help you identify the culprit. Rebecca Blue is the USDA’s undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs which developed the free “Save Our Citrus” app.
Among the new state laws that have taken effect this month in Florida is a measure that’s dissolved local government prohibitions on bee keeping and put apiary regulation entirely in the hands of state government. Some home-rule advocates oppose the law, but it’s being celebrated as a boon…particularly for backyard beekeepers.
A group of students at Florida Gulf Coast University have been reaping the benefits of their labor this season after turning a half acre parking lot into a “Food Forrest”. Surrounded by banana plants and sugar cane – to provide a wind break - fruit bearing shrubs and trees as well as range of vegetables and herbs are flourishing. WGCU’s Valerie Alker took a tour with Food Forrest President Kelly Walch.
About 150 people are demonstrating in front of Publix Supermarket’s headquarters in Lakeland this week. About sixty are fasting. The so-called “Fast for Fair Food” is the latest move in the ongoing standoff between the state’s largest retail grocery chain and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. WGCU’s Valerie Alker reports.
Tuesday night’s freezing weather took a fairly light toll on area growers compared to last year’s impacts.
UF Extension Agent Gene MacAvoy said some tomato and eggplants suffered frost damage as did a some fields of beans and squash. Damage is estimated between $10 to 20 million. But, MacAvoy said it’s still early in the winter growing season.
Between 2005 and 2010, McDonalds, Taco Bell, Burger King and Subway, along with several large food suppliers and growers, pledged to pay farmworkers an extra penny per pound for the Florida tomatoes they purchased.
The deals were negotiated through the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). The last holdout, The Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, signed on last November and seemingly erased any impediments to the payments. But, Greg Schell of Florida Legal Services, which is bringing the class action suit on behalf of the farmworkers, says that’s not the case.
“There was all the this publicity about these great agreements that they got a lot of public goodwill out of and what’s frustrating to us is okay, that’s fine. Now, pay the money. All we want is the money and it’s puzzling to my clients and puzzling to me as to why this can’t get resolved,” he said.
Schell says only McDonalds has responded to the lawsuit and representatives told him they were waiting from instructions from the CIW on how to get the money to the workers.
The Coalition issued the following written statement.
“We don't support this lawsuit, because we think it's wrong on the facts and wrong on what it would impose. We're confident the court will make the right call on this, and we're happy to wait until that time to make any further comment."
Florida Legal Service and the CIW have both worked for decades to improve working conditions and pay for migrant farmworkers.