Farmers Ask For A State Of Emergency As Crops Drown In The Field

Dec 11, 2015

Vegetables rot in the soggy fields of Homestead after all this rain.
Credit Sammy Mack / WLRN

This December has been one of the wettest on record for South Florida—and while it’s been a couple of days since the hard rains let up, there’s still standing water in fields across the Homestead area.

From the side of the road, you can see yellow squash plants, wilting and submerged in mud. Soft fungus and the pockmarks of rot scar the vegetables.

This is supposed to be lettuce.
Credit Tommy Vick

  “If the plant is going to die, it’ll start to weep—the leaves will start to go down and almost look like it’s melting in the field,” said Tommy Vick of V&B Farms, who is watching for more damage to come in the next few days, “Once we see the signs of damage there, we’ll know what’s going on.”

Vick estimated up to 80 per cent of his crops have drowned the soaked fields.

He was one of the farmers who showed up for a meeting called by the Dade County Farm Bureau. The farming community is asking Florida’s agriculture leaders to declare another state of emergency.

In September, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam declared a state of agricultural emergency when the destructive oriental fruit fly was discovered in Miami-Dade County.

Which, according to Lynn Chaffin of Pine Island Tomato Farms, caused even more problems with this rain.

“A number of us switched our land from areas that were close to the quarantine area to outside the quarantine area and many times into a lot lower ground,  which in fact was a double whammy because we got flooding from the lower ground,” said Chaffin.

Miami-Dade Agricultural Manager Charles LaPradd is concerned that the crop loss could disrupt the whole winter growing season.

“We haven’t had substantial rain in a couple days. We still have puddles of water in the field,” said LaPradd. “People can’t get back in and plant because the ground is still saturated.”