January 2021, Volume 27, Number 1
DOL debarred Flo-Ag LLC and owners Jose and Juan Flores from the H-2A program in December 2020 after finding that 113 US workers were owed $45,200 in back wages; the US workers were paid less than H-2A workers and were not provided with free housing. Flo-Ag provided workers to harvest blueberries and vegetables at Smith Farms in Trenton, Florida and Wood Farms in Rochelle, Georgia.
Clay Pederson of Agromillora Florida developed an experimental block of oranges near Lake Placid with 908 trees per acre that can be harvested mechanically with an over the row harvester similar to that used to harvest olives. Pederson said: “Growers want to pick 100% of the fruit. But, if you are mechanically harvesting, you can leave a percentage on the tree and it still makes more economic sense.”
Over 240,000 chickens died in a December 2020 fire at a Cal-Maine Foods facility in Dade City 40 miles northeast of Tampa. Cal-Maine, based in Jackson, Mississippi, accounts for almost 20 percent of US shell egg production.
Florida voted 51-48 percent for President Trump in November 2020. Major cities including Miami, Orlando and Tampa voted for Biden, while most voters in the rest of the state voted for Trump. Voters approved Amendment 2 by a 60-40 margin to raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.56 in 2020 to $15 an hour by September 2026, becoming the eighth state to adopt plans for a $15 minimum wage.
Miami, often considered the “capital” of much of Latin America, has a population that is mostly Hispanic and immigrant. The Cuban-Americans who dominate political leadership are mostly Republicans, and many of the other immigrants rejected Democratic candidates in 2020 after they were deemed to be “socialists.” Many of Florida’s immigrants escaped from socialist homelands.
Georgia. In September 2020, the USTR asked the International Trade Commission to undertake a Section 201 investigation to determine if imported blueberries are hurting US producers, primarily in Florida and Georgia. Under Section 201, the ITC can find that foreign producers engaged in “unfair trade practices” or that their exports are a “substantial cause” of injury to US producers, paving the way for tariffs on the imports.