GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -- The coronavirus continues to affect our everyday lives and those in the agricultural industry, especially here in Florida, are still seeing major impacts.
The agricultural industry is the 2nd biggest contributor to Florida's economy behind tourism. Small scale farmers across the state are seeing the biggest impacts from the pandemic.
John Hoblick, president of Florida Farm Bureau, says, "smaller producers are usually a niche type producer that supply the restaurants or supply farmers markets and those because of the social aspects that we have to deal with you know have been shut down."
Another major concern comes in the form of labor. Farms who use the H2A program have seen a delay in those workers getting to our area.
Brittany Lee, a local blueberry farmer, says "Our farm uses H2A contracted workers from Mexico and they have not arrived yet, which is a little stressful, but the association, Florida Farm Bureau, and Florida Fruit and Vegetable all have been working together with the U.S. Department of Ag to expedite those worker visas for ag commodities. "
Lee, who has been in the blueberry farming industry for 10 years, tells me this is the absolute worst time of the year for something like this to happen. She says demand is much lower compared to years past.
She says, "Last week and this week the demand is lower than the same weeks that correlate to 2019… and that's concerning."
Other farmers told me that they've actually seen an increase in workload during this crisis, and they say you can help local farmers by purchasing food with Florida Fresh or locally grown labels.