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Thursday's Afternoon Update

Florida hemp: Commercial growing around the corner

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will begin issuing permits for commercial growing of industrial hemp within a month. Perhaps Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried should consider issuing red flags along with the permits. “Don’t spend any more money than you are willing to lose,” Tyler Mark, an agricultural economist at the University of Kentucky, told more than 50 Florida agriculture leaders and academics at the Florida Agriculture Policy Outlook Conference 2020. More from the Star and the Lakeland Ledger.

Federal rules changed to allow more testing for coronavirus. Florida isn’t going to follow them.

The federal changes allow doctors to test more people faster to contain the spread of the highly contagious virus. Instead, Florida health providers have been advised to order tests only for people who fit a more narrow criteria: a history of travel to a high-risk area, or close contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient within 14 days of showing symptoms. More from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and CBS Miami.

Bahamas plans deep water oil drilling. First site is 150 miles off South Florida

The Bahamas plans to soon start drilling for oil -- just 150 miles off the coast of South Florida. Bahamas Petroleum Company said in a regulatory filing earlier this year that it will drill its first exploration well, called Perseverance #1, in deep offshore waters as early as April. The Bahamas is only the latest island nation to hunt for black gold that lies under turquoise waters -- a trend that environmentalists say poses a slew of potential threats to marine systems from the Caribbean to Florida. More from the Miami Herald.

Space Florida may have 'streamlined' path to financing

Space Florida, the state’s aerospace arm, would bypass governor and Cabinet approval to issue revenue bonds under a measure now ready for a Senate vote. With little discussion, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday backed a proposal (SB 1070) that would allow the public-private agency to issue revenue bonds or any other type of debt, including bank loans, without the currently required three-fourths approval of the governor and Cabinet. More from the Biz Journals and WJXT.

JEA board will decide fate of controversial contracts

JEA will take the unusual step of elevating a decision to the utility’s board of directors on whether to ratify three no-bid contracts that were approved during now-abandoned negotiations for selling JEA. After General Counsel Jason Gabriel determined three contracts with outside firms did not go through the required procurement process, JEA initially planned to put the contracts on the agenda for the JEA Awards Committee to vote Thursday on ratifying the contracts. More from the Florida Times-Union.

Out of the Box
St. Petersburg’s thrifting scene is so good, they come by the busload

 Resale and secondhand shopping is having a major moment. The number of resale shops — from vintage boutiques to nonprofit charity shops — has grown 7 percent in each of the past two years, according to the Association of Resale Professionals. Even major retailers are partnering with online thrift and consignment stores to get in on the action.

» More from the Tampa Bay Times.


Agriculture Trends
Florida growers predict bigger avocado crop while battling fungal disease

floridaFlorida's avocado industry is bouncing back from hurricane damage, but still struggles to find new, effective weapons in a war against laurel wilt fungal disease. The state's industry hopes for a crop of about 900,000 bushels this year, up from 800,000 bushels last year, mostly thanks to recovery from Hurricane Irma damage in 2017.

» Read more from UPI.