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Flies, Flooding Plague South Florida Agriculture

Flooded corn field
Elena Toro
Suwannee County Extension

After a heavy rainfall last week, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says some fields in South Florida were left under more than a foot of water. The commissioner says he’s working this week to find solutions.

Putnam says he’s working with the Army Corps of Engineers and leaders in the region to address flooding that’s played havoc with South Florida’s agriculture industry.

“And we continue to work through these issues of drainage and flood control and look forward to hopefully a longer term solution,” Putnam says.

Putnam spoke with reporters about the issue last week before visiting the area Monday. He says growers in the South have been hit by a “double whammy.” Not only are they facing floods, but they’re just coming out from under the threat of what Putnam says was an historic oriental fruit fly infestation. Putnam says after finding evidence of the flies, officials responded aggressively including the implementation of a quarantine.

“Since that time we have found no new flies of the oriental fruit fly. We are now 60 days with no new finds. We have to go three life-cycles before we can lift the quarantine. That puts us somewhere in February if we have no new finds. So this has been a significant impact,” Putnam says.

Florida ranks among the top agricultural exporters. In 2014 exports totaled more than $4-billion.