TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In her continued advocacy for Florida’s forestry industry, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting the continued processing of H-2B temporary worker visas critical to U.S. agriculture, including the timber and forestry industry.
Forestry, a $25 billion industry in Florida supporting 124,000 jobs, is the state’s top agricultural commodity, a key part of Florida’s $137 billion agriculture sector, and deemed essential during COVID-19. Forestry is the second largest user of the H-2B visa program, with Florida second in the nation in hiring of H-2B seasonal guestworkers. Forestry products include timber, lumber, paper, cardboard, wood fuel, livestock forage, and more.
Last week, Commissioner Fried applauded the signing of a USDA agreement providing $380 million in block grant aid to Florida timber farmers devastated by Hurricane Michael in 2018; the Category 5 storm leveled 550 million trees and dealt $1.3 billion in damage to Florida’s timber industry. Commissioner Fried had previously written to President Trump highlighting the damaging effects of his tariffs and trade wars on American forestry; exports of Florida timber to China fell 66 percent in 2019 due to retaliatory tariffs. She has also visited Washington to urge that the state’s Congressional delegation fight for timber disaster assistance.