TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — We all love fresh local crops, but with over 300 commodities produced in Florida, there is not enough domestic labor to harvest them. That's where H-2A temporary agricultural workers come into play, but one of the requirements to use the workforce is access to housing.
There are currently two bills working their way through Tallahassee to help streamline the process for AG landowners to build and install safe housing for their workforce.
Matt Joyner, the vice president and CEO of Citrus Mutual, says the current process in based on the local and county regulations. This legislation is said to make it a uniform process. Joyner adds without these workers, we would not be able to bring many of Florida's commodities to market.
“Farmers advise heavily for domestic labor, but unfortunately those advertisements go unanswered,” said Joyner. “There is just not the workforce here in the state of Florida to provide for those jobs. And that’s a good thing, because that means that we have other opportunities within the economy in Florida that keeps our unemployment low, but we do have to fill these jobs as well.”
Joyer says there is hope that a form of these bills will move forward and will be signed by Governor DeSantis this legislative session.
As for our current citrus crops, Joyer says after several very tough years, this year’s crop is looking very promising.