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TALLAHASSEE, FL -- Charles H. Bronson, commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, announced Dec. 30 that the executive order relaxing trucking restrictions so that farmers can transport freeze-vulnerable crops has been extended. The order, which was set to expire Dec. 31, has been extended for an additional seven days.

Mr. Bronson originally requested that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist issue the emergency order Dec. 10 just prior to the freeze. In seeking this extension, Mr. Bronson said that farmers need the additional time to continue harvesting and transporting affected crops to processing and retail facilities before they deteriorate. The extension will give the agriculture industry time to harvest crops without overloading processing facilities, according to a department press release.

Mr. Bronson has alerted organizations representing the state's agricultural producers and trucking interests of the governor's action so they can load and transport crops in accordance with the relaxed highway restrictions. Florida's growers produce nearly all the nation's domestically produced fresh fruits and vegetables during the winter, according to the release.