Florida’s 18th Congressional District includes the Heartland of Florida. It starts north in Polk County at I-4 and stretches down past Lake Okeechobee, nearly to the Everglades. Home to over 200 specialty crops and most of Florida’s citrus and cattle operations, I’m proud to represent the largest agriculture district east of the Mississippi.
After my first term in Congress, I worked to secure a seat on the House Appropriations Committee, where I am on the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration. In this role, I’m fighting for Florida’s agriculture priorities. Agriculture is a vital part of our Florida economy and the lifeblood of many of our rural communities. Our farmers, ranchers, growers and producers not only feed the nation and the world, but also create thousands of jobs that strengthen our local economy.
Florida’s citrus industry plays a critical role in our state’s economy and FL-18 contains 70% of Florida’s citrus production. Unfortunately, unfair trade imbalances, invasive diseases and hurricanes have taken a toll on the industry. Some growers have been forced to sell their lands for development because they cannot overcome continued challenges.
That’s why I introduced legislation to bring needed relief to our agriculture producers and protect our citrus industry including:
- H.R. 662, the Block Grant Assistance Act – This bill ensures the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) can provide needed relief to agriculture producers devastated by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. It gives the Agriculture Secretary needed authority to provide block grants to Florida to assist producers affected by recent hurricanes. It passed the House and is now awaiting action in the Senate.
- H.R. 1750, the Defending Domestic Orange Juice Production Act – This bill would adjust the required level of sugars/solids content (Brix standard) in not-from-concentrate pasteurized orange juice from 10.5 percent weight of orange juice soluble solids to 10 percent. Fine-tuning the Brix standard will provide our citrus growers flexibility without sacrificing quality. By adjusting this standard, growers can produce orange juice with more domestically grown fruit, making them less reliant on foreign juice needed to meet the current standard. While a .5% Brix standard change is indistinguishable in taste, it has a powerful impact on production.
- H.R. 2942, the Conservation Reserve Program Amendments Act – This critical bill will protect Florida citrus groves by making them eligible for enrollment in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a federal initiative designed to protect vulnerable farmland. Amending the CRP to include citrus groves gives Florida growers needed time to rehabilitate their groves and continue our state's long tradition of providing domestically sourced orange juice.
More on Agriculture
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