Florida's agriculture industry is one of the largest industries in the state, accounting for more than $7.98 billion in revenue. Florida farmers produce more than 250 crops annually and lead the nation in the production of many different types of agricultural products.
At the center of all those efforts is Florida's 20th Congressional district, one of the most agriculture-intensive in the state. Located in the heart of sugar and citrus country, the latest United States Department of Agriculture Census estimates that agriculture brings in approximately $578 million dollars of revenue to my district.
Consequently, I consider myself a leading voice and friend for Florida’s farmers. Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have fought to increase farming opportunities for minority farmers, to create incentives for young farmers and advocated for country of origin labeling.
I believe that we need to fund agriculture research and efforts to combat diseases that attack our crops and trees. For instance, one of the most serious troubles facing American farms is a decline in pollinators. These animals fertilize flowers and crops by carrying pollen from one plant to another. For a variety of reasons still not fully understood, many of these species are undergoing drastic population decline. My amendment to the 2007 Farm Bill secured almost $90 million dollars for related research that has since gone a long way toward helping scientists unlock the remaining mysteries. Additionally, I am the founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus. This is bi-partisan Caucus is dedicated to providing information to Members of Congress and their staff related to how natural, political and economic developments impact the security of pollinators and their habitats. Because one out of every three bites of food we eat is a result of the intervention of pollinators such as bees, bats, birds and butterflies, saving these creatures is of the utmost importance to me.
With escalating global food prices and instability, an independent, secure national food supply is essential. American farmers are the keystone of that plan. The government needs to weigh the impact that any new regulations would have on farmers in order to ensure that their success in the agricultural market is not hindered. Please know that farmers in my home state of Florida and throughout the nation can count on my support.