Two citrus industry representatives participated last week in a Re-Open Florida Task Force working group created by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Florida Department of Citrus Executive Director Shannon Shepp and Matt Joyner of Florida Citrus Mutual served on a panel representing agriculture, finance, government, healthcare, management and professional services. It is one of several working groups that will inform the Re-Open Florida Task Force Executive Committee, which will make recommendations on how best to re-open the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The working group kicked off on Wednesday and viewed presentations by representatives from several industries,” Shepp stated on April 24. “The group has since met every day to discuss and expects to review recommendations to go to the executive committee at some point next week. Our inclusion in this working group recognizes the vital contribution citrus growers and industry members make to the state and the people who live here. My goal is to make sure the executive committee receives information that is accurate and helpful as we move forward together as a state during this uncertain time.”
Joyner stated, “We had a very productive meeting this week and we appreciate the governor’s hard work to get the state back up and running. Florida citrus has been treading water during this strange period and we are anxious to get back to normal, although that’s going to be a methodical process.”
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is not a member of a task force working group, but nonetheless offered numerous suggestions to the governor. She recommended encouraging the President and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to rescind the recent decision to allow Chinese fresh citrus imports, and encouraging USDA to buy more Florida-grown produce. She also asked Gov. DeSantis to urge the President and the U.S. Department of State “to continue the expeditious processing of H-2A visas” to allow sufficient agricultural harvesting labor.
Read Fried’s comprehensive recommendations to the Re-Open Florida Task Force here.
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