Earlier this week I was able to speak to numerous bipartisan members of the House Committee on Agriculture on a variety of issues affecting our industry right now. The listening session was hosted by Rep. Kat Cammack (FL-03).
Two of the issues I feel are vital are the USDA’s block grant program and the 2023 farm bill, which is in the early stages of being written now. What’s most important is getting the people in this industry necessary aid as many of us are still working to recover from last year’s extreme weather events. Revisions to the block grant and releasing it would be a massive boost to our efforts as we move forward. Many elected officials have stated that the block grant program is a priority for them, and I believe that to be true.
The farm bill is of equal importance for the longevity of our industry. The last two farm bills have strengthened crop insurance, and it will be important to continue that. The farm bill also shapes conservation and nutrition, both of which have been backbones of the citrus industry since its inception. Representative Brad Finstad (MN-01) said “we need to make sure that this next farm bill (is) going to be written by the farmer, for the farmer.” That is a promising statement.
I speak a lot about our industry coming together. Supporting each other. Lifting each other up. This is one of those moments for us.
Over 200 of you from our industry showed up to the listening session. It was emotional at times, and we all felt it, mostly because we’ve all experienced it. I believe the officials in attendance also felt that. We need to continue to show them not only how this has impacted us, but also how passionate we all are about this industry and its importance to the state and national economy. Agriculture and our food system are the lifelines of this country. Now is the time to make our voices heard like never before.
I encourage all of you to write, call and email the members of the House and Senate committees on agriculture. EVERY member, not just the ones we’ve met or heard from. Speak to them on the importance of the block grant and farm bill. Now is the time to tell them about how much we love this industry, our importance to the food ecosystem, how positive our impacts have been and will continue to be. You can view all the members of these committees at the links below:
Committee Members | House Agriculture Committee
Committee Membership | Senate Committee On Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry
Steve Johnson is Chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission, which oversees the Florida Department of Citrus. He is the owner and general manager of Johnson Harvesting, Inc., based in Wauchula, FL.