Florida's agriculture industry is one of the largest industries in the state, accounting for more than $7.70 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. The United States Department of Agriculture Census estimates that agriculture brings in approximately $791 million dollars of revenue to our 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. With growing 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.
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. 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 and I will continue to fight to protect this vital population.
In order to help to find solutions to this growing problem, I co-founded the Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus, along with Congressman Jeff Denham (R-CA), a 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. My amendment to the 2007 Farm Bill secured almost $90 million dollars for related research, and, with the help of Congressman Denham, successfully added encourages the planting of pollinator vegetation and habitat along our nations nearly 17 million acres of highway right-of-ways in the 2015 transportation reauthorization bill.