PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLA. – Several farmers across South Florida are still recovering after the steep decline in demand for produce during the peak of the spring harvest season.
However, Theo Rumble of Fresh Start Produce Sales is optimistic about the new season ahead as he prepares to plant a new round of peppers and cucumbers this week.
“We’re grateful to be in the shape we’re in,” said Rumble. “We're going into another year and we’re looking forward to it.”
Rumble plans to harvest his crop in December and expects green beans to be available by Thanksgiving.
However, he is asking the community to continue supporting local farmers by purchasing produce from Florida.
“I’m also encouraging state agencies to buy Florida grown produce,” Commissioner Nikki Fried said during an interview last spring. “That's the best return on investment.”
There’s also more financial help available for farmers after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced additional funding to support agricultural producers facing market disruptions and costs due to COVID-19.
“With all of the challenges COVID-19 has caused for Florida farmers, including up to $522 million in crop losses just through April, we’re pleased to see the USDA commit additional funds to supporting our growers through these uncertain times,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried earlier this month. “CFAP 2 includes new payment structures and support for additional commodities that weren’t eligible in the first round of the program.”
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is urging all eligible Florida farmers to apply ahead of the deadline on December 11th.
“I’m 62-years-old and this is the first time in my life I remember farmers in the vegetable business getting any type of government support,” said Rumble.
Up to an additional $14 billion has been designated for additional support through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2).
“During times of economic downturn when tourism suffers, agriculture becomes our state’s main economic driver,” said Dr. Saqib Mukhtar, Associate Dean at UF/IFAS Extension.
Commissioner Fried is also encouraging consumers to sustain jobs in their community by shopping for locally grown produce.
“Palm Beach County is the number one agriculture county in the state,” said Commissioner Fried. “Getting the resources to them is essential.”