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Florida Farm Workers Seek Federal Aid

By Tom Flanigan

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-883821.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – Desperate farm workers from Central and South Florida were in Tallahassee Thursday. They want Governor Charlie Crist to speed up the state's request for federal disaster aid in the wake of the recent freeze.

Crist was out of town, traveling through South Florida. So the farm workers wandered through the Capitol, speaking with as many lawmakers and other state officials as they could find. Farmworker Association of Florida Coordinator Tirso Moreno says the situation is dire.

"At least a 100,000 families have been affected by the freeze," he says.

Moreno says the freeze came at the height of the winter vegetable season, also hitting the sugar cane, citrus and ornamental plant crops. Many thousands of farmers have no work and no income.

"We need the governor to speed up the request (for) the president to declare a federal disaster," he says.

That declaration would release emergency unemployment funds and other assistance. A spokesman for the governor says the emergency request is "in the pipeline."