agriculture

Sunshine Economy
8:58 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Bittersweet: The Sugar Industry In South Florida

Rick Roth, President of Roth Farms, stands among his sugarcane in Palm Beach County.
Credit Tom Hudson

Talking about sugar in South Florida is like talking about politics and religion in polite company. Few people are without strong opinions about the sugarcane farms stretching across the eastern Everglades south of Lake Okeechobee. The industry is a mix of government price policies, environmental regulations, trade practices and the demand for food.  

Read more
Agriculture
2:24 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Time Is Running Out To Save Florida's Oranges

Ripening fruit in a grove in Plant City, Fla., this month. Florida citrus growers are worried about citrus greening, which causes bacteria to grow on the leaf and fruit, eventually killing the tree.
Chris O'Meara AP

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 7:15 pm

It's not been a good year for Florida's citrus industry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that, for the second year running, the orange crop is expected to be almost 10 percent lower than the previous year.

The culprit is citrus greening, a disease that has devastated Florida's oranges and grapefruits, and has now begun to spread in Texas and California.

Read more
The Sunshine Economy
2:20 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

ENCORE: The Sunshine Economy On Agriculture

Credit Tom Hudson

Click play to hear Tom Hudson host this episode of WLRN's ongoing radio and online series, The Sunshine Economy, airing Mondays at 9:00 a.m. on WLRN 91.3 FM.

Squeezed between South Florida's neighborhoods and the Everglades is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry. Tomatoes, beans and avocados all sprout from the rocky South Florida soil along with one of the largest nursery industries growing trees, shrubs and other landscaping plants.

Agriculture generates a direct $700 million dollars a year in Miami-Dade County alone. The economic impact of the plowing, growing and picking of those crops is much larger.

Read more
Food
3:31 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Why Lots Of Grass-Fed Beef Sold In U.S. Comes From Down Under

Patricia Whisnant, who runs Rain Crow Ranch in Doniphan, Mo., says her grass-fed beef can compete with the Australian product because it has a better story American consumers can connect with.
Courtesy of Rain Crow Ranch

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 2:24 pm

Beef from cattle that have grazed only on pasture is in high demand — much to the surprise of many meat retailers, who didn't traditionally think of grass-fed beef as top-quality.

George Siemon, a founder of Organic Valley, the big organic food supplier, says the push for grass-fed beef started with activists who wanted to challenge a beef industry dominated by factory-scale feedlots. In those feedlots, cattle are fed a corn-heavy diet designed to make the animals gain weight as quickly as possible.

Read more
Environment
7:43 am
Thu October 3, 2013

Miami-Dade Expands Urban Development Boundary

FIU Geography Professor Jeff Onsted straddles the Miami-Dade County Urban Development Boundary at Miller Road and SW 167th Avenue.
Credit Tom Hudson

Miami-Dade County commissioners on Wednesday opened the door to more warehouses and offices west of Doral, agreeing to expand the Urban Development Boundary to include a 521 acre-chunk already surrounding by buildings.

Read more
Agriculture
11:27 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Rooftop Farming Is Getting Off The Ground

Stacey Kimmons and Audra Lewicki harvest lettuce at the Chicago Botanic Garden's 20,000-square-foot vegetable garden atop McCormick Place West in Chicago.
Courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 3:03 pm

From vacant lots to vertical "pinkhouses," urban farmers are scouring cities for spaces to grow food. But their options vary widely from place to place.

While farmers in post-industrial cities like Detroit and Cleveland are claiming unused land for cultivation, in New York and Chicago, land comes at a high premium. That's why farmers there are increasingly eyeing spaces that they might not have to wrestle from developers: rooftops that are already green.

Read more
The Sunshine Economy
5:07 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

The Sunshine Economy: Homemade Guacamole

Guacamole made with Florida-grown avocados is on the left.
Credit Tom Hudson

Click the play button above to hear this radio segment from The Sunshine Economy: Agriculture show on September 16 with host Tom Hudson. The show airs every Monday at 9 a.m. on WLRN 91.3 FM.

Modern society has separated many of us from our food source. Sure, there are local field-to-table efforts and farmer’s markets, but it’s awful hard to know where all your food comes from.

Read more
The Sunshine Economy
6:00 am
Thu September 19, 2013

The Sunshine Economy: Urban-Rural Dividing Line

An example of the land value differences thanks to the Urban Development Boundary (UDB), according to Jeff Onsted of FIU.
Credit Jeff Onsted / FIU

Click the play button above to hear this radio segment from The Sunshine Economy: Agriculture show on September 16 with host Tom Hudson. The show airs every Monday at 9 a.m. on WLRN 91.3 FM.

Two pieces of land in real estate development-hungry South Florida. They are less than two miles apart but more than 10-times the difference in assessed values (see photo above).

The reason: the Urban Development Boundary (UDB) in Miami-Dade County.

Read more
The Sunshine Economy
12:48 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

The Sunshine Economy: Tomato Trade War

Tony DiMare is vice president of DiMare Companies, one of the largest growers of tomatoes in Florida.
Credit Tony DiMare

The juicy red tomato has been the target of an international trade war since the mid-1990s. It pits U.S. tomato growers, including DiMare Company of South Florida, against growers in Mexico.  

RELATED: The Sunshine Economy: Agriculture

Read more
Labor
2:59 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

How To Better Protect Farmworkers From Pesticides: Spanish

Farmworkers harvest and package cantaloupes near Firebaugh, Calif.
Gosia Wozniacka AP

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 1:02 pm

Advocates for farmworkers, especially those who grow America's leafy greens and fresh vegetables, are pushing the government to do more to protect those workers from exposure to pesticides.

Read more
Agriculture
8:05 am
Thu June 27, 2013

New Bugs In Florida Stymie Researchers, Threaten Crops

The psyllid, discovered eight years ago in Florida citrus groves, has been problematic for researchers and farmers alike.
University of California, Davis AP

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 5:34 am

With its pleasant climate, Florida has become home to more exotic and invasive species of plants and animals than any other state in the continental U.S. Some invasive species have been brought in deliberately, such as the Burmese python or the Cuban brown snail. But the majority of species are imported inadvertently as cargo.

Amanda Hodges, who heads the biosecurity research lab at the University of Florida, says that until recently, scientists saw about a dozen new bugs arrive in Florida each year.

Read more
Food Prices
8:30 am
Mon February 4, 2013

$5 A Pound? Tomato Price Threat Seen As Tactic In Trade Dispute With Mexico

EXTREME TOMATO: The price in Japan is nearly five dollars for a single tomato. In the U. S., a prediction of five-dollars-a-pound is being debunked as a scare tactic to preserve Mexican market share.
Credit www.omroundtheworld.com

Will stopping Mexican tomatoes at the border raise tomato prices prohibitively for American consumers?

An importers group predicted recently that if the 1996 tomato agreement with Mexico is terminated, tomatoes could rise to $5 a pound in American supermarkets. Florida growers now say that's a scare tactic by interest groups who favor Mexican imports. "Under no circumstances will this be true," said Edward Beckman, president of Certified Greenhouse Farmers.

Read more
Business
8:04 am
Wed January 23, 2013

Fla. Tomato Growers Say Mexico Trade Deal Is Rotten

J. Pat Carter AP

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 11:01 am

Half of all tomatoes eaten in the U.S. come from Mexico, and tomato growers in Florida aren't happy about that. In fact, they're willing to risk a trade war to reverse the trend.

At JC Distributing In Nogales, Ariz., one misstep and you're likely to get knocked over by a pallet full of produce. Forklifts crisscross each other carrying peppers, squash and especially tomatoes from trucks backed into the warehouse loading dock.

"This is a Mexican truck being unloaded," says JC President Jaime Chamberlain. "He's just waiting for his paperwork to get back."

Read more
Florida Sugar
6:24 am
Fri October 19, 2012

Evaporated Cane Juice: Sugar In Disguise?

If you look very closely, you'll see "evaporated cane juice" in the ingredients list on this yogurt. A California woman is suing the Chobani yogurt company over its use of the term.
Karen Castillo Farfán NPR

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 7:08 pm

If you're one of those people who vigilantly checks the ingredient list of the things you buy at the grocery store, you may have already seen this: Some food products now contain something called "evaporated cane juice." It can be found in yogurt, fruit juices and lemonades.

So what exactly is evaporated cane juice? Well, it depends on whom you ask. We spoke with a few folks outside our local grocery store, and many of them were confused. Take a listen:

Read more
Agriculture
11:12 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Agriculture Commissioner Says Industry Needs 'Stable, Legal Workforce'

Starfruit inside Sarasota Jungle Gardens
DeusXFlorida/flickr

Immigration and agriculture go hand in hand.

That's what community and business leaders in Tallahassee recently heard from Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

He said immigration reform is vital to the health of the state’s agriculture industry

Putnam told the Economic Club of Florida he is concerned the U.S. is losing business to developing countries that have different standards for hiring farm workers.

Read more