Premium gasoline? You’re wasting money unless you vehicle requires it, AAA says.

Is premium worth the price? AAA tested vehicles to find out.

Do you buy premium gasoline when you don’t need to? Some motorists think it might help their vehicle’s performance, even if it isn’t required.

AAA released new research Tuesday that shows paying-up for premium –91/93 octane vs. 87 octane for regular — may not be worth the extra money, unless your vehicle absolutely requires it.

“Sometimes consumers think they are giving their vehicle a boost by buying a higher-grade gasoline than what is required,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. “AAA already proved that there is no benefit to using premium gasoline in cars designed to run on regular. Now we can confidently say that unless the vehicle manufacturer requires it, or you drive in demanding conditions, motorists who buy premium are wasting money at the pump.”

Some motorists may consider the additional torque and horsepower to be worth the extra money. Individual drivers – particularly if their driving style can be described as “spirited” – may find an improvement in vehicle driving performance for off-the-line acceleration, highway passing, hill-climbing when loaded with luggage, or towing a trailer; and may determine that their personal driving benefits from the use of premium gasoline.

While some vehicles are designed to run on premium octane gasoline, others simply recommend it. So AAA set out to determine the effects of using premium gasoline in vehicles that recommend it, and whether the benefits in fuel economy and horsepower are worth the higher price at the pump.

The Price of Premium

  • On average, this year in Florida, there has been a 20-25 percent  (57 cent) price gap between regular and premium octane fuel ($2.37 vs. $2.94)
  • On Monday, the state average price for a gallon of regular was $2.41 vs. $3.00 for premium. (Click here to view today’s averages)
  • In Palm Beach County on Tuesday, regular averaged $2.53, while premium was $3.15.

Putting Premium Fuel to the Test

  • AAA tested a variety of vehicles that recommend, but do not require the use of premium (91 octane or higher) gasoline.
  • A series of tests were conducted to determine whether the use of premium gasoline resulted in:
    • Improved fuel economy
    • Increased performance (horsepower)
  • Although AAA has already proven that these vehicles are unlikely to see any benefit from using premium gasoline during typical city or highway driving, a combination of laboratory and on-road tests were performed to simulate extreme driving scenarios such as:
    • Towing
    • Hauling cargo
    • Aggressive acceleration
  • Test vehicles included: Ford Mustang GT, Jeep Renegade, Mazda MX-5 Miata, Cadillac Escalade ESV, Audi A-3, and the Ford F150 XLT
  • Key Findings
  • Most vehicles showed a modest improvement in fuel economy and performance.
  • Fuel economy for test vehicles averaged a 2.7 percent improvement. Individual vehicle test result averages ranged from a decrease of 1 percent (2016 Audi A3) to an improvement of 7.1 percent (2016 Cadillac Escalade).
  • Horsepower for test vehicles averaged an increase of 1.4 percent. Individual vehicle test result averages ranged from a decrease of 0.3 percent (2016 Jeep Renegade) to an improvement of 3.2 percent (2017 Ford Mustang).
  • Premium gasoline costs 20-25% more than regular.
  • The fuel economy improvements recorded during AAA testing do not offset the potential extra cost to purchase premium gasoline.
  • Click here to read the full report

 

Premium Gas – Recommended vs. Required

  • Last year, nearly 1.5 million new vehicles sold in the United States recommend, but do not require, premium gasoline.
  • The trend toward recommending or requiring higher-octane fuel continues to rise as manufacturers work toward meeting stringent CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards.

“By offering a choice, automakers can market modest gains in fuel economy and performance, and car buyers are less likely to hesitate about buying the vehicle, because their operating costs will be lower,” Jenkins continued. “Unfortunately, by only recommending premium fuel, the engine cannot be calibrated to take full advantage of the higher octane, because it also needs to perform adequately with lower octane (regular) fuel. Therefore, the fuel economy and performance gains are only minor.”

AAA Recommends

  • Drivers of vehicles that require premium gasoline should always use it.
  • For those vehicles that do not recommend or require premium gasoline, AAA suggests drivers opt for the lower priced, regular fuel.
  • Any vehicle that makes a “pinging” or “knocking” sound while using regular gasoline should be evaluated by a AAA Approved Auto Repair Facility and likely switched to a higher-octane fuel.
  • AAA urges drivers who use premium gasoline to shop around for the best price, as it could vary dramatically between gas stations in any given city.
  • The AAA Mobile app, is a free tool to help drivers identify the least expensive premium gasoline near them.

Higher Octane Does Not Mean “Higher Quality”

  • AAA found no benefit to using premium gasoline in a vehicle that only requires regular-grade fuel.
  • In a study released last year, AAA found that consumers wasted nearly $2.1 billion dollars fueling vehicles with higher-octane gasoline.
  • Drivers seeking a higher quality fuel for their vehicle should consider using one that meets Top Tier standards. Previous AAA research found it to keep engines up to 19 times cleaner.
  • The study noted the difference in fuel quality was dependent on the various detergent packages in gasoline, which vary by retail brand.

Florida citrus crop estimate shrinks again post-Irma

Florida citrus groves were severely damaged by Hurricane Irma. Provided.

Hurricane Irma continues to haunt Florida farmers as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Tuesday once again decreased its monthly estimate of the state’s 2017-2018 citrus crop.

The USDA now says Florida will produce 46 million boxes of oranges, down 4 million boxes from November and 8 million boxes from October. The USDA makes its first estimate in October of each year and revises it monthly until the end of the season in July.  For more information go to https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Florida/Publications/Citrus/

   “This is exactly what we thought would happen as the true damage begins to rear its ugly head in the groves across Florida,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, the state’s largest grower organization. “Unfortunately the situation is going to get worse before it gets better; we think the actual size of the 2017-2018 crop will not be known until the season is over and all the fruit is picked.”

“Clearly, this lower estimate provides stark evidence that Congress needs to pass a citrus relief package so we can start to rebuild and put the industry on a path to sustainability while saving the communities that rely on citrus,” Sparks said.

On September 10  Hurricane Irma moved through the center of the state pounding Florida’s major citrus producing regions with up to 110 mph winds and 15 inches of rain. The hurricane blew fruit off the tree and caused widespread tree damage. A FCM survey of growers conducted post Irma pegged total fruit loss at almost 60 percent with some reports of 100 percent fruit loss in the Southwest part of the state.

Tuesday’s forecast represents a decline of more than 80 percent since the peak of citrus production at 244 million boxes during the 1997-98 season.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Tuesday, “While much of the state has recovered and moved on from Hurricane Irma, Florida’s citrus growers continue to grapple with the unprecedented damage, which is still unfolding in many groves. Florida’s growers need support and they need it as quickly as possible. I will continue to work with Governor Scott and leaders in Washington to get Florida’s growers the support and relief they need to rebuild.”

After Irma, Putnam announced that Florida citrus sustained more than $760 million in damages.

For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.

 

 

Watch out for hurricane-damaged boats likely to be up for sale

Watch out for boats that were damaged in this year’s storms that might be up for sale. Provided.

More than 63,000 boats were damaged as a result of the 2017 hurricanes. Some will be repaired and put up for sale.

Consumers in the market for a boat need to know what to look out for or they could end up with a storm-damaged lemon.

The nation’s largest advocacy, services and safety group for recreational boaters, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), cautions used boat buyers that some boats affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are beginning to hit the market, and that getting a pre-purchase survey (called a Condition and Value survey) is very important.

“It’s not that you don’t want to buy a boat that’s been repaired, but you should have full knowledge of the repairs and know they were done correctly. It’s a transparency issue that will help you negotiate a fair price,” said BoatUS Consumer Affairs Director Charles Fort. The boating group offers eight tips to help you spot a boat that might have been badly damaged in a storm:

  1. Trace the history. When a car is totaled, the title is branded as salvaged or rebuilt, and buyers know up front that there was major damage at some point in the car’s history. But only a few states brand salvaged boats – Florida and Texas do not – and some states don’t require titles for boats. Anyone wishing to obscure a boat’s history need only cross state lines to avoid detection, which can be a tipoff. Look for recent gaps in the boat’s ownership, which may mean that it was at an auction or in a repair yard for a long time.
  2. Look for recent hull repairs. Especially on older boats, matching gelcoat is very difficult. Mismatched colors around a repaired area are often a giveaway and may signal nothing more than filler under the gelcoat, rather than a proper fiberglass repair.
  3. Look for new repairs or sealant at the hull-to-deck joint. Boats that bang against a dock during a storm often suffer damage there.
  4. Evidence of sinking. Check for consistent corrosion on interior hardware, such as rust on all hinges and drawer pulls. You might be able to spot an interior waterline inside a locker or an area hidden behind an interior structure.
  5. Corrosion in the electrical system. Corrosion on electrical items, such as lamps, connectors and behind breaker panels might mean the boat sank recently. Does the boat have all new electronics? Why?
  6. Look for evidence of major interior repairs. Fresh paint or gelcoat work on the inside of the hull and engine room is usually obvious. All new cushions and curtains may be a tipoff, too.
  7. Look for fresh paint on the engine. It may be covering exterior rust as well as interior damage.
  8. Ask the seller. In some states, a seller isn’t required to disclose if a boat was badly damaged unless you ask. If the seller hems and haws, keep looking.

Get rid of unwanted apps to protect yourself, FTC advises

The FTC says smart phone users should delete any apps they are not using. Provided.

Not using an app? Get rid of it, the Federal Trade Commission advises.

Using your social media account to log into an app or website can be easier than creating a new user name and password. But, after a while, you can collect more apps and become registered on more websites than you really use. This can leave you open to cyberattacks, phishing, and scams, the FTC said.

When you use social media accounts to sign up for apps or websites, you may give the app or website permission to do things on your behalf, like post to your social media page. You’re also possibly saying it’s OK to access information like your name, birthdate, location, contacts, and even your messages. Over time, you may even forget which apps or sites have these permissions.

Here’s how  to help ensure you’re not granting permissions to sites and apps you no longer want to have this access:

  1. Ask yourself: “Why do they need this info?” When signing up for an app or website, pay attention to what permissions it’s asking for. If you’re not comfortable allowing access, select “deny “or “disagree” when you see the message asking for permissions. This typically stops the registration process.
  2. Purge your permissions list. Go to the settings on your social media site and follow the instructions that lead you to the list of sites and apps to which you’re granting access. Follow the instructions that tell you how to remove those apps or sites, click on one at a time and select the option that allows you to remove it.
  3. Make it a habit. Set a reminder on your calendar for at least every few months to check your permissions.

The FTC has more information for you about online security and privacy.

Inspector finds dead rodent at CityPlace movie theater

A patron of the AMC CityPlace 20 theater shot this photo of three rodents that appeared to be mice.

A state inspector found a dead rodent under the screen in theater #7 at AMC CityPlace on Monday and issued a warning.

The rodent was in a mouse trap, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation spokeswoman Kathleen Keenan said Tuesday.

The theater and its food service were not shut down, Keenan said.

An inspector from DBPR’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants re-inspected the West Palm Beach theater Tuesday, Keenan said.  Traps in theater #7 were clear on Tuesday, the callback report states.

“Yesterday, the Division responded to a complaint, forwarded from the Department of Health, and conducted food service inspections at the licensed public food service establishments located at the theater,” Keenan said.

“Due to the allegations of the complaint, the inspector checked theater #7 and found a dead rodent in a mousetrap behind the screen,” Keenan said.

The theater, 545 Hibiscus St., also was cited for four other violations.

An employee was not wearing a hair restraint while preparing food. The hot water at the sinks in both the men’s and ladies’ bathrooms did not reach the required 100 degrees.

The inspector noted  a buildup of ice in a walk-in freezer as well as water  draining onto the floor between the ice machine and a water heater.

During a follow-up inspection Tuesday, the theater was cleared of the rodent violation and the hair restraint violation, and was given more time to fix the other problems. Repairs are underway.

Another inspection will be conducted before September 25.

DBPR’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants licenses and inspects public food service establishments in movie theaters.

Since late Friday night, reports of rodents being spotted at the theater have been circulating on social media.

A theater employee referred calls to AMC’s corporate office, which did not respond to a request for comment after 5 p.m. Monday.

“Went to see the 9:50 show for girls trip last night at city place when someone yelled it’s a rat, look down it’s 3. So if you go to the movies and they put you in theatre 7 get your money back,” one Facebook post states. One person commented she had seen rodents there a week ago.

INSPECTOR FINDS LIVE ROACHES AT LOCAL CHICK-FIL-A

Ashley Pearce, 30, a West Palm Beach resident and preschool teacher, told The Palm Beach Post that with about 15 to 20 minutes left before the movie’s end,  she heard some commotion near the front of the theater.

“Someone yelled, “It’s a rat,” and people were running out and putting their feet up,” Pearce said.

She turned on a light on her phone and saw three mice, and took a photo. Everyone in the section she was seated in left and headed to the box office to get refunds, Pearce said.

FOUR PALM BEACH COUNTY RESTAURANTS CITED FOR ROACHES, RODENTS

About 50 people lined up for refunds. One woman said she saw five rodents, Pearce recalls.

Pearce said she received a $30 refund for the two tickets and drink she had purchased, but no apology.

“I was disgusted,” Pearce said. “I took my 2-year-old son there just a couple of months ago. Kids sometimes pick food up off the  floor and eat it.”

“I think they should shut it down until they get it taken care of,” Pearce said.

 

 

Is $2 a gallon gasoline here yet? It could be on the way.

Consumers might find $2 a gallon gasoline at a handful of stations any day now. (Post file photo)

Motorists should be on the look out for $2 a gallon gasoline, because even as the Fourth of July holidays approach, it’s almost here.

RELATED: FOURTH OF JULY TRAVELERS, HERE’S HOW TO AVOID GAS PUMP SKIMMERS

No gas station in Palm Beach County has reached the $2 per gallon price point consumers love yet, as of Monday morning, based on prices reported to GasBuddy.com. However,  it could happen any day now at a handful of stations  as gasoline prices continue to plummet.

At least a dozen stations were offering regular gasoline for $2.02 a gallon Monday, with Rocket Fuel, 100 N. Federal Highway, North Palm Beach,  standing alone at $2.01 a gallon,  to GasBuddy.

There could also be a lingering “Wawa effect” in some areas.

RELATED: WAWA EFFECT HAS RETURNED AS PALM BEACH COUNTY GAS PRICES DROP LOWER

Gasoline prices continue to fall across the country, as well in Florida’s highest-priced fuel market, Palm Beach County. The county’s  average fell  to $2.30 Monday from $2.36 a week ago, AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report shows.

Florida’s average is $2.20 a gallon, down from $2.26 a week ago, and elsewhere in the state, motorists are finding $2 a gallon gasoline, AAA said.

Even with the Fourth of July travel period beginning this weekend, Florida’s average has been falling for 23 consecutive days.

RELATED: RECORD NUMBER OF AMERICANS EXPECTED TO TRAVEL OVER 4TH OF JULY

“It’s amazing we’re staring at some of the cheapest prices of the year as the holiday comes into view,” Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, said.

“As motorists pack their cars in preparation for the July 4 holiday, gasoline prices continue their widespread drop, falling in all but five states over the last week, as retail prices play catch up to the falling price of crude oil,” DeHaan said.

“Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois saw prices rise slightly due only to the fact that gas prices had fallen so significantly that stations in those areas were selling under their cost, prompting an adjustment. For the rest of the country, the downward momentum has continued and may do so again this week, so long as there’s no sudden reversal in the price of crude oil,”  DeHaan said.

As the summer travel season began earlier this month, gas prices are averaging the lowest in 12 years, AAA said.

AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said, “Oil prices moved even lower last week, dragging gas prices down with them.  Oil prices are having a hard time stabilizing amid fears that oversupply will continue dominating market. The slump at the pump is not over yet. Prices are falling at a steady rate, and motorists should see another round of discounts this week.”

It may be a distant memory, but in November 2016, as the Thanksgiving holidays approached, a few stations in Palm Beach County were offering gasoline for $1.99, cash price. The county’s average stood at $2.27 then.

Here are the lowest prices for a gallon of regular gasoline in Palm Beach County as reported to GasBuddy.com:

$2.01: North Palm Beach, Rocket Fuel, 100 N. Federal Highway

$2.02:  West Palm Beach area including Raceway, 288. N. Haverhill Road; Mobil, 2050 Belvedere Road; Wawa, 1530 Belvedere Road; 7-Eleven, 1001 N. Military Trail; Murphy USA, 1050 N. Military Trail; Speedway, 2450 Okeechobee Blvd.; Cumberland Farms, 2692 N. Military Trail; Speedway, 6840 Okeechobee Blvd.

$2.02: Royal Palm Beach including Costco, 1001 Southern Blvd.

Construction is underway on FPL’s next eight solar power plants

FPL’s solar facility in Manatee County is shown here.

 

Construction is underway on Florida Power & Light’s  next eight solar power plants, which in total will produce enough energy to power 120,000 homes, company officials said Wednesday.

The plants under construction are in Indian River, St. Lucie, Hendry, Alachua, Putnam and DeSoto counties. The total investment is about $900 million.

The new energy centers, which will comprise a total of more than 2.5 million solar panels and nearly 600 megawatts of capacity combined, are all on track to begin powering FPL customers by early 2018. The plants are called universal solar because through the power they send to the grid, they serve all customers.

“FPL is living proof that it’s possible to generate cleaner energy and deliver outstanding service while keeping customers’ electric bills among the lowest in the nation,” said Eric Silagy, FPL’s president and CEO. “We are proud to be advancing affordable clean energy infrastructure in Florida in close partnership with respected environmental advocates, community leaders and our customers. Together, we are bringing the benefits of solar energy to more Floridians faster and more affordably than ever before.”

Each of the eight new solar plants will be capable of generating 74.5 megawatts of zero-emissions energy when the sun is shining. Power from the plants will feed FPL’s energy grid.

FPL spokeswoman Alys Daly said, “These solar energy centers will pay for themselves in fuel savings over the life of the plants. They will save customers approximately $40 million or more in fuel costs.”

Construction costs have decreased in the last few years as the panels are cheaper, and FPL has become better at building them, Daly said.

About 500 people are working on construction across the eight solar sites. FPL expects the construction workforce will grow to approximately 1,500 during peak activity this summer.

Daly said FPL is planting pollinator-friendly plants, wildflowers and natural grasses at the sites and is working with Audubon Florida to find  ways to make the sites even more environmentally friendly.

The solar plants need a lot of land, an average of 450 acres each, but  produce no emissions and don’t use any water.

The sites are in various stages of early construction, ranging from ground-clearing work to initial infrastructure installation. The first solar panels are being installed at the FPL Horizon Solar Energy Center, which straddles Alachua and Putnam counties.

“FPL continues to transform the energy landscape of the state and nation, and we are honored that North Florida is playing an important role,” said Brian Bergen, vice president of economic development for the Putman County Chamber of Commerce. “These new solar power plants are about more than just affordable clean energy. They’re also delivering economic benefits right here, right now.”

In addition to a portion of the FPL Horizon Solar Energy Center, the FPL Coral Farms Solar Energy Center is also being built in Putnam County.

The eight new FPL solar plants under construction and their expected completion dates are:

  • FPL Horizon Solar Energy Center, Alachua and Putnam counties (by Dec. 31, 2017)
  • FPL Coral Farms Solar Energy Center, Putnam County (by Dec. 31, 2017)
  • FPL Indian River Solar Energy Center, Indian River County (by Dec. 31, 2017)
  • FPL Wildflower Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County (by Dec. 31, 2017)
  • FPL Barefoot Bay Solar Energy Center, Brevard County (by March 1, 2018)
  • FPL Blue Cypress Solar Energy Center, Indian River County (by March 1, 2018)
  • FPL Hammock Solar Energy Center, Hendry County (by March 1, 2018)
  • FPL Loggerhead Solar Energy Center, St. Lucie County (by March 1, 2018)

Florida ranks ninth in the nation for solar resource – the strength of the sun’s rays.  FPL projects that solar will outpace coal and oil combined as a percentage of the company’s energy mix by the year 2020. By 2023, FPL estimates solar will reach 4 percent of its generation capacity.

Florida  ranks 13th in the nation for solar installed, with 725 megawatts,  according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.  This includes residential, commercial and utility-scale solar.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that in March for the first time, electricity generation from wind and solar, including utility-scale solar and small-scale systems, exceeded 10 percent of total electricity generation in the U.S. On 2016, wind and solar made up 7 percent of total U.S. electric generation.

In 2016, FPL became the first company to build solar cost-effectively in Florida, leveraging its purchasing power and sites with key advantages to complete three 74.5-megawatt universal solar power plants that are projected to result in net customer savings over their operational lifetimes.

From 2017 through 2023, FPL plans to add nearly 2,100 new megawatts of solar, including the approximately 600 megawatts currently under construction. Those plants will provide enough energy to power 420,000 homes, Daly said.

The Volusia County Commission recently approved a site in Samsula, the first for the additional 1,500 megawatts of solar.

FPL has been studying and operating solar in Florida for more than three decades. In 1984, FPL commissioned its first universal solar installation, a 10-kilowatt photovoltaic facility in Miami that helped the company’s employees gain experience with the then-emerging technology.

Over the years, FPL has continued to test and operate a wide variety of solar technologies. In 2009, the company built the 25-megawatt FPL DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, which was the largest solar PV power plant ever built in the U.S. at the time.

FPL already operates more than 335 megawatts of solar generating capacity throughout the state:

  • FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, Charlotte County
  • FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County
  • FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center, Manatee County
  • FPL Martin Next Generation Clean Energy Center (hybrid solar/natural gas), Martin County
  • FPL DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County
  • FPL Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center, Brevard County
  • FPL Solar Circuit at Daytona International Speedway, Volusia County
  • Solar research installation at Florida International University, Miami-Dade County
  • FPL SolarNow array at the Broward Young At Art Museum & Library, Broward County
  • FPL SolarNow array at the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society, Palm Beach County
  • FPL SolarNow array at the Palmetto Estuary Nature Preser

JUST IN: Boca restaurant cited for 35 violations, including rodent activity

Inspectors cited Sapphire Indian Cuisine for 35 violations, including an accumulation of a mold-like substance in an ice machine.

A Boca Raton restaurant was temporarily closed last week after state inspectors cited it for 35 violations, including rodent activity,  employees touching food with their bare hands and an ice machine with a black/green mold-like substance in its interior.

Sapphire Indian Cuisine, 500 Via De Palma, Suite 79, was ordered closed Thursday. An employee said Monday that the restaurant  re-opened Friday, and that the problems have been fixed.

Following a re-inspection Friday, inspectors found eight violations remaining.

More than  130 fresh rodent droppings were identified under dry storage shelves, under a shelf next to a walk-in cooler, under a shelf containing sodas, under a fryer and grill at the cook line and under a prep table at the cook line, a  Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation report states.

Four other high-priority violations were noted:

The chlorine sanitizer for the dish machine was not at the proper minimum strength.

An employee touched cooked fried onions with his or her bare hands. The food was not heated to the required 145 degrees.

Hot food was being held at less than 135 degrees.

Raw shelled  eggs were stored over washed produce in a walk-in cooler.

The 22 basic violations included, among other issues,  bags of rice and flour  stored on the floor, an overflowing dumpster, a garbage can outside with no lid or a broken/open lid, three microwave ovens with encrusted food debris and the lack of a mop sink, cooks without hair restraints and an objectionable odor in the back room with the ice machines.

The eight intermediate violations included:

An accumulation of a black-green mold-like substance in the ice machine’s interior.

A hand-washing sink also being used to wash vegetables.

No paper towels or mechanical hand-drying device in the employees’ bathroom.

Failure to submit and have renovation plans approved by the state.

No soap at the hand-washing sink at the bar and in the employees’ bathroom.

Food left at room temperature to cool.

Food  prepared and held more than 24 hours not properly date-marked.

Two soiled cutting boards at the cook line.

 

 

Palm Beach Co. homeowners cut out of proposed $37 million canker deal

A grapefruit infected with canker is shown during a 2007 trial against the state in Palm Beach County. Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post

 

Under a budget deal reached in the Florida Legislature Wednesday, Palm Beach County homeowners who lost citrus trees to canker would receive zero compensation, while Broward and Lee County residents would split $37 million.

Gov. Rick Scott could still veto the funds, and the deal, said to be a work in progress, could change.

Palm Beach County residents are owed $28.4 million for mostly healthy trees that were removed from their backyards during the state’s failed canker eradication program.

Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Doral, said in an interview on the Florida Channel that there isn’t enough money to pay all of the millions owed to Broward, Lee and Palm Beach County residents.

Since the Broward and Lee county the cases had the oldest judgments, and had the largest amount of interest accrued, the decision was made to pay them first, Trujillo said.

Residents in those three counties and Orange County sued the state and won.  Orange County property owners are owed $35.8  million, and  a case is ongoing in Miami-Dade County

During the state’s battle against the bacterial fruit-blemishing disease from 1995 to 2006, the state and federal governments spent $1.6 billion destroying 16.5 million commercial and residential citrus trees.

Trees within 1,900 feet of an infected tree were also destroyed, but the effort was fruitless, as the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 spread the bacterial disease. The federal government halted the eradication program in 2006.

In Palm Beach County 63,455 citrus trees were destroyed at 26,491 residential properties.

During the program, the state offered a $100 Wal-Mart voucher for the first tree it removed and $55 for each subsequent tree. Lawsuits filed against the state asserted that wasn’t enough compensation, and juries have agreed.

 

 

Putnam to Commerce Sec. Ross: You live in Palm Beach, investigate Mexico!

Piles of discarded radishes line a field at Roth Farms in Belle Glade, Florida on January 11, 2017. Prices were low due to imports from Mexico, and it wasn’t worth harvesting the radishes. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

U.S. Department of Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross is a Palm Beach County resident and Wednesday Florida Agriculture Commissioner reminded him of that as he urged Ross to initiate an investigation into Mexico’s unfair trade practices.

The billionaire investor and his wife Hilary Geary Ross own a house in Palm Beach.

Putnam sent a letter to  Ross emphasizing the need for fair trade, as Mexican imports have negatively affected Florida agriculture.

“As a resident of Palm Beach County, one of the most fertile growing regions in the State of Florida, you are keenly aware of the tremendous diversity of agricultural commodities produced by Florida’s farmers and ranchers,” Putnam wrote.

Palm Beach County’s winter vegetable season coincides with Mexico’s, and the cheap imports have adversely impacted Florida growers.

The Palm Beach Post covered the problem in January.

Florida agriculture has an economic impact of more than $120 billion a year and provides the impetus for more than 2 million jobs, Putnam said.

“I believe that Florida produces the highest quality agricultural commodities in the world and can successfully compete in a global market on a level playing field. Unfortunately, the current trade environment created under NAFTA is anything but a fair and level playing field for Florida’s producers,” Putnam stated.

The letter can be found here.