IMMOKALEE — The University of Florida IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center has been assigned to “provide legislators with an update on the impacts of the coronavirus situation on South Florida agriculture.”
To that end, Gene McAvoy, who is the former regional vegetable agent for Glades and Hendry counties and now is associate director for stakeholder relations at the research center, is scrambling to collate information from local growers so as to give Florida’s legislators the most current information on which to base decisions.
He’s looking for updates on the impacts of the coronavirus situation on agriculture and still is appealing to growers, packers and others to share any effects that their businesses may be experiencing.
“We have been able to keep legislators and UF/IFAS administration appraised of what’s happening in the field: markets shrinking by 50 to 80% as food service purchases disappear, millions of pounds of produce being disked up or dumped, tens of thousands of gallons of milk being dumped, donations to food banks and efforts by a number of farms to sell direct to consumers.
“I have also been actively communicating with officials about the size and complexity of our industry,” Mr. McAvoy wrote in an email, calling that “something that many have little knowledge of — and what it would take to retool and target new markets.”
Mr. McAvoy said he needs to know about all COVID-19 effects on any agricultural business: “I would love to hear from you about other impacts you may be experiencing. Labor availabilty, supply chain disruptions — chemicals, packaging, trucking — availability, delays. What steps are you taking to educate and protect workers and staff? If it is still business as usual that is valuable info as well.”
As the current president of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents as well, Mr. McAvoy is well poised to provide information to associations, officials and organizations on all levels.
He can be reached by email or telephone at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center: email@example.com; office, 239-658-3414; or cell, 863-673-5939.