Federal, state and local officials say they want to sustain agriculture — an industry plagued with many problems from immigration reform, to pests and diseases and now man-made flooding.
Pests and immigration reform issues are insignificant if we can’t seed the land. Agriculture is the second largest money maker in Florida with over 33,000 acres of winter vegetables alone grown in Miami-Dade.
The Army Corps of Engineers is flooding cropland that has been farmed from way before they thought of canals and flood control. Now our properties are becoming wetlands. The flood criteria over the past six years has been steadily increased resulting in frequent flooding from underground, depleting oxygen from the soil and causing the plants to die.
The criterion has been raised to the point that it is never reached so the floodgates are never opened. It was different in the past. The floodgates are open in north and central Miami-Dade County but dammed here, causing growers to suffer flood damage even though there is no rain. Former local U.S. Reps. David Rivera and then Joe Garcia fought a daily battle for farmers, but with no relief. I hope Carlos Curbelo picks up the fight.
At the state level, our local State Rep. Holly Raschien is fighting for us to save a very important industry, but it seems Tallahassee is more interested in making our ports bigger and deeper for larger ships to import more fruits and vegetables. This negatively impacts agriculture in South Florida.
If you put the people involved in agriculture out of work, Florida’s economy will certainly suffer. Again, if you ask Tallahassee they will say they want to sustain agriculture — but we can’t farm in water.
Locally the county commission is silent in the fight but when asked, they will say they want to sustain agriculture.
To sum it up, the government is making it tougher and nearly impossible to farm in South Miami-Dade County, something my family has done since 1948.
I feel it is an issue of national security to be able to feed ourselves; during the winter, we are fed fresh vegetables by South Florida and California only. When Florida and California are out of business, who do you think will feed us? Do you want to depend on foreign food? That is where our government is pushing us — to rely on others as we do for every other commodity.
Sam Accursio Jr., Sam S. Accursio & Sons Farms, Homestead