agriculture

Video: Marco Rubio bemoans lack of aid for citrus growers

Florida’s U.S. senators have made a bipartisan pitch for the citrus industry to their colleagues, but it’s unclear whether federal lawmakers will fork over the money to bail out Sunshine State growers devastated by Hurricane Irma.

The state estimates the citrus industry took a $640 million wallop, but ag experts, including Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, say that damage is actually much higher.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio delivered a speech on the floor yesterday bemoaning the fact that the Florida delegation couldn’t get aid for the citrus growers in the recovery spending bill.

Here’s part of his speech:

“You have the entire Florida delegation in the House in favor of it, and they couldn’t get it in the House bill. You have both senators here for it, it can’t be part of this year because if we change it and go back we’re going to lose time. No one can tell you why it’s not in there, no one can tell you they are against it being in there, but it’s not in there. So you sometimes begin to wonder, I guess you start to understand, why people look at this process and just shake their head.

So unfortunately it looks like that’s been foreclosed and obviously this thing will move forward. Senator Nelson just made that motion, and it was objected to, so it won’t be part of this package. But I just hope we think about those men and women, these families that own these groves—how do you explain this to them? And what happens if they go away? What happens if we lose this critical industry? It won’t just hurt Florida. I think it hurts the country, and I think it sets a precedent for other crops that might be threatened likewise in the future.”

Caldwell ropes in cows, horses and trees in latest campaign video

Only oranges scream “Florida ag” louder than horses, cattle and trees.

And state Rep. Matt Caldwell, who’s running for state agriculture commissioner in what could be a heated primary against state Sen. Denise Grimsely, looped in all three of the latter — and heavy equipment and pickup trucks, too! —  in his latest “work days” video, released by Caldwell’s campaign Wednesday.

We’re not judging, but check out Caldwell, a Republican from North Fort Myers, hacking away at a limb on the back of a semi.

Raising a stink in horse country

It’s no surprise that the Florida Agricultural Center and Horse Park in Marion County draws a lot of hoof traffic.

The 500-acre facility hosts numerous equine events, including rodeos, roping contests and dressage shows. It includes a 79,500-square-foot covered arena where riders can exercise their horses shaded from the summer sun.

The agricultural center features show-quality jumps with rails, gates, planks and walls, and is home to 320 permanent stalls.

But the facility, which recently fired its executive director, faces some challenges, not the least of which is a giant pile of poop.

To be accurate, the pile also includes “urine-soaked shavings,” according to the Ocala Star-Banner, which reported on recent developments at the horse park, which is under the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Jim Payton, interim executive director at the park, said ten trailers full of the equine byproducts have been removed, but it’s only the beginning, according to the Star-Banner.

“I would say there is probably another 100 trailerfuls still out there. We need to get rid of it, but we don’t have the funds to do it all at once,” Payton said.

Posted by Lloyd Dunkelberger