To give growers more time to haul their crops to packing facilities, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is extending an executive order relaxing trucking restrictions through Jan. 14.

Florida relaxes trucking restrictions to help freeze-damaged crops

This is the third extension of an emergency order that previous agriculture commissioner Charles Bronson had requested for freezes that struck south Florida growing regions in early, mid- and late December.

By extending the emergency order that relaxes highway restrictions, commissioner Putnam said growers could gain necessary time to continue harvesting and moving their crops to processing and retail facilities before the crops deteriorate. The extension should also provide the state’s agriculture industry time to harvest its crops without overloading packing operations, he said.

In late December, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist requested U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack designate 35 Florida counties as part of an emergency disaster declaration so growers can seek federal disaster assistance.

Early damage estimates have the freezes that struck Dec. 6-7 and Dec. 13-15 causing $273 million in total losses. USDA officials are scheduled to release a damage survey that covers all of the freezes, including the ones that hit Dec. 27-29, on Jan. 18.