Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson has announced that weight restrictions on transporting potato crops out of northeast Florida have been eased as a result of flooding rains in that area of the state.

Executive Order 09-126 declaring a state of emergency in 11 counties was signed earlier by Governor Charlie Crist at Bronson's request, enabling farmers who are growing potatoes to quickly harvest their crops and transport them to processing and marketing facilities to help mitigate further losses.

The counties in which a state of emergency was declared were Brevard, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Lake, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns and Volusia.

"The recent heavy rains have inundated crops, especially those in Putnam, St. Johns and Flagler counties," Bronson said. "Potatoes, the primary crop in the area, are in peak harvest season. More than two-thirds of the 18,000-acre crop is still in flooded fields and must be harvested quickly before further damage occurs."

Bronson said potato farmers could suffer losses of more than $50 million if the remaining portion of the crop is not quickly harvested and transported.