INTRO: The state of Florida Department of agriculture and consumer services, estimates that hurricane damage to vegetable crops at one hundred million dollars. For farmers, there is insurance. But what can migrant farmworkers returning for work and shelter expect? WMNF’s Mark Antokas has more.

SCRIPT: The U.S. Government has earmarked more than three billion dollars for agriculture disaster relief this year, Florida farmers can expect almost two thirds of that. But there is little help available to returning migrant workers who have traditionally come to South Florida this time of year, to pick tomatoes, strawberries, and citrus fruits. Thank hurricanes Charlie, Francis and Jeanne for a fifty percent drop in crop production. Slim pickin’s for returning migrant workers. Father Ramon is a Catholic priest with the Santa Rita Church in Dade City. He says with the juice factory closing in Dade city and the lack of crops to harvest, farmworkers are in trouble. Roll Tape:

A typical farmworking family brings in about seventy-five hundred dollars a year to feed, clothe and house their family. That’s when they have work. Margueritta Romo is with Farmworkers Selfhelp, she says that migrant workers have two major problems. Roll tape:

Luckner Millien is with the Farmworker’s Association of Florida, which represents sixty-five hundred farmworker families. He says that the situation is becoming critical. Roll Tape:

Arnold Andrews is the Executive Director of Catholic Charities in St. Petersburg. Andrews says that the problems facing workers are just beginning to surface. Roll Tape:

Andrews says further, that the migrant farmworker is not appreciated in this country and that with out them, the United States would be in trouble. Roll Tape:

Andrews sums it up by saying that because three of the four hurricanes Florida saw this past season, those jobs just have ceased to exist and that relief efforts to help farmworking families in need, are in order. Roll Tape:

SOCK OUT: In 1997, the Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing published a report stating that Florida’s migrant farmworker population was at 139,000 people, which included farmworkers and their dependants. The full impact on migrant workers due to hurricane damage to Florida’s crops, remain to be seen. This is Mark Antokas for WMNF, radio news.

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