Record Cold Withers Plant City Economy
Around the State
In the precarious economy of the moment, a prolonged chill in Plant City can mean the difference between recovery and further financial devastation.
The agricultural industry in Florida has been devastated this year with millions in lost revenue, and strawberries have been one of the hardest hit crops.
Anthony Reynes of the National Weather Service said, "Hillsborough County suffered the second coldest February in recorded history, and this winter has been the seventh coldest in history."
Most of the state’s strawberries crop are grown in the county.
Ted Campbell, Executive Director of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, warns that the price of strawberries in the grocery store will double, with prices taking off from $12 to $24 a container.
"We anticipate a loss of approximately $175 million dollars in revenues for our growers, and of the 15,000 people who work in the industry, about 2 to 3 percent have lost their jobs," Campbell said.
In a normal year, strawberries are harvested from November to March in Florida. This year the cold weather forced the harvest to be cut short in December. Vegetables have suffered even greater losses. The tomato crop has been nearly wiped out, affecting even fast food chains like Wendy's and Burger King, who are not including tomatoes on burgers unless customers request them.
"I have approached the governor's office and the Department of Emergency Management and asked for their help with our situation,” said Rep. Richard Glorioso, R-Plant City, whose distict has been hit by loss of agricultural jobs and revenue. “It's in their hands now."
"The losses are devastating and nobody will break even this year," Campbell said.