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Mary Lamberts, Carlos Balerdi, and Karen Eskelin

Producers of perishable commodities periodically experience natural disasters. Growers in Dade County, Fla., have suffered losses from hurricanes, freezes, and floods. Public agencies and grower groups are often asked to provide immediate estimates of loss to both official sources and the news media. Following the Jan. 1997 freeze, a method was developed to provide this information within 1 day of the disaster. This has also been used to estimate job losses for agricultural workers.

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Henrique Mayer, Joe Garofalo, and Carlos Balerdi

Safety training for farm, nursery and landscape workers has been provided in Miami-Dade County in English and Spanish for many years. Vegetable workers are available August–September; nursery, landscape and tropical fruit workers all year. Certificates of Completion and proof of training cards are provided. Traditionally, a half-day rodeo was offered—instructors delivered presentations several times as participants move from room to room. 4 to 6 agents and 2 to 4 volunteers are needed to teach such training, plus 8 to 10 classrooms. 100+ vegetable and nursery workers participate. A local school was used for many years, with training scheduled when school was out. A tractor driving competition was held after lunch, with trophies and cash prizes. As scheduling the school became difficult, training was offered at the CES office using one room and 2 agents (Spanish in am, English in pm). This is easier to arrange and can be offered any time of year. In total, 40–50 nursery workers attend. A third type of training developed as topics were requested by the industries; for example, chainsaw and climbing safety for tree crews. One agent and one volunteer are required; 50 or more participate, and class is in English. Safety is also taught as part of other seminars, required by law (pesticide applicator training, Worker Protection Standard), trade organizations (landscape, nursery, arborist) or county policy (hurricane pruning for public employees). Participation varies widely (15 to 100+), as does language. We have concluded that successful safety training depends on being willing and able to offer the type of training required by a given situation, which will change over time.

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Mary Lamberts, Carlos F. Balerdi, and O. Norman Nesheim

The Dade County Extension Service has conducted three types of training classes related to the new Federal Worker Protection Standard (WPS): Train-the-Trainer sessions, WPS Worker Training, and WPS Handler Training. All of these must follow rigid course outlines to comply with requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. At the end of training classes, growers and other audience members are often confused as to how this Standard actually affects their operation. The discussion will describe: a) materials and supplemental training classes developed by extension agents to help growers comply; b) operational changes that local growers have made as a result of this new law; c) the effects of this Standard on field visits and demonstration-research projects; and d) interactions between agents and non-traditional clientele groups.

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Mary Lamberts, Donald Pybas, Carlos Balerdi, Joseph Garofalo, and Charles LaPradd

The University of Florida Miami-Dade County Extension, as a member of the USDA's County Emergency Board, is required to assess damage to commercial horticultural crops (tropical fruit, ornamentals, and vegetables) immediately following natural disasters. While trying to determine dollar values following a freeze in Jan. 1997, Extension and the Farm Service Agency (FSA) developed a spreadsheet that lists all the major crops by commodity along with average yield per acre and price based on how the crop is sold. Acreage is another component, as is the percentage of each crop that was “lost” during the disaster in question. These components are multiplied to give a dollar value of the loss for each individual crops and are totaled to give losses for the major commodities in Miami-Dade. While acreage is relatively stable for ornamental and tree fruit crops, it fluctuates considerably for vegetables, depending on the time of year. Within roughly 24 h of a disaster, the committee assesses actual damage to different crops by conducting a windshield survey of the local growing area. This allows staff to calculate the percentage of damage experienced by each sector and current acreage. Then, acreage and crop loss figures are plugged into the equation and dollar values are generated. Crop loss can also be translated into lost jobs, which can assist migrant service providers with funding requests. This presentation will review the different types of damage experienced during hurricanes Katrina and Wilma in 2005 and their effects on the local economy. Katrina caused extensive flooding, with some structural damage, while damage from Wilma was primarily due to high winds and micro-bursts.

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Jonathan Crane, Carlos Balerdi, Richard Campbell, Carl Campbell, and Seymour Goldweber

Hurricanes occur periodically in southern Florida, resulting in severely damaged or destroyed orchards due to high winds, fresh-water flooding, and salt damage accompanying these storms. Commercial fruit production is often markedly reduced following hurricane damage. Orchard establishment and management practices that increase tree rooting depth and reduce tree size decrease tree losses due to high-velocity winds that accompany these storms. Cultural practices, such as post-hurricane pruning, whitewashing, resetting, and irrigation of trees, can rehabilitate a damaged orchard. Planning for a hurricane will increase the ability of orchards to withstand a storm and resume fruit production as soon as possible following a storm.