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July 2019, Volume 25, Number 3
Fancy Farms in Hillsborough county used All Nation Staffing in 2013 to recruit 54 H-2A workers in Honduras. All Nation unlawfully?charged the workers $3,500 each in recruitment fees. The H-2A workers sued All Nation and Fancy Farms in 2015. A federal judge dismissed the suit against Fancy Farms in 2018, ruling?that only All Nation was liable for charging recruitment fees.
The workers appealed, and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals court in March 2019 ruled that Fancy Farms was jointly liable to repay the workers' recruitment fees because the Fancy Farms-All Nation Staffing contract did not explicitly say that no recruitment fees can be charged.
Florida's citrus acreage is declining because of urbanization and citrus greening, a disease spread by a winged insect. In May 2019, the EPA allowed growers to use antibiotics that are used to treat syphilis, tuberculosis and urinary tract infections in humans, streptomycin and oxytetracycline, on their trees.
The EU and Brazil ban the use of streptomycin and oxytetracycline on citrus trees, arguing that the widespread use of antibiotics in agriculture could reduce their effectiveness in humans. Livestock farms account for 80 percent of the antibiotics used in the US, and drug-resistant infections kill an estimated 23,000 Americans a year.
Citrus greening turns the leaves of orange trees yellow. After arriving in Florida in 2005, citrus greening has spread to 90 percent of the state's citrus acreage. California citrus growers are also using antibiotics to slow the spread of citrus' greening effects on their trees, prompting worries about the effects of spraying antibiotics on applicators and farm workers, and about the migration of antibiotics and bacteria resistant to them into ground water and food. Antibiotics are not to be used within 40 days of harvesting fruit.
Orange growers are experimenting with high-density orchards that have 600 to 900 dwarf trees per acre and are hedged to have trees that are up to 10 feet high and three feet wide. The oranges on these trees can be harvested mechanically with Oxbo 6430 and New Holland Braud 9090X machines that pick up to 95 percent of the fruit with minimal damage to the trees.
The Liner Source plant nursery in Lake county produces 10 million plants, trees and shrubs a year for developers and theme parks with 175 employees. Liner Source wants to expand with 200 H-2A workers, but local residents in May 2019 protested plans to construct a two-story dormitory for the H-2A workers. DOL certified 30,500 jobs to be filled with H-2A workers in Florida in FY18.
The 2013 Mexico-US tomato suspension agreement was terminated in May 2019. The US Department of Commerce is investigating whether Mexican producers sold tomatoes at less than fair market value.
Florida in April 2019 considered a law that would require local governments to use their "best efforts" to assist federal immigration enforcement efforts in their communities. Texas enacted a similar law in 2017.
Georgia. Lane Southern Orchards in Peach county, with 5,000 acres the largest peach grower in the state, expects to employ 500 workers in 2019, including 60 percent H-2A workers. The state's peach harvest goes from May through July.
North Carolina. FLC Cirila Garcia-Pineda of Stantonsburg was charged by DOL in April 2019 with violating H-2A regulations by charging recruitment fees to 13 Mexican H-2A workers, housing them in poor conditions, and underpaying them. Garcia-Pineda and two others agreed to pay $75,000 to the workers and be barred from the H-2A program.