Press Releases

Webster and Bipartisan Members of Florida Delegation Send Letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack in Support of Florida Disaster Declaration

Washington, DC - Florida Congressman Daniel Webster (R-Clermont) is pleased to join Rep. Kat Cammack (FL-03) and Rep. Darren Soto (FL-09) along with members of the Florida delegation in sending a bipartisan letter to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack in support of the state of Florida’s request for a USDA Disaster Declaration for the counties impacted by freezing temperatures January 29-31, 2022.

The letter describes how areas of Central and South Florida saw temperatures plunge to their lowest in more than a decade at the end of January, resulting in prolonged damage to crops across the state. Governor DeSantis issued a state of emergency in 30 counties across Florida, and a USDA Disaster Declaration would provide additional support under the Farm Service Agency to impacted farmers.

“Agriculture is one of the three pillars of Florida’s economy, with our state’s farmers growing high quality foods that end up on kitchen tables around the world,” said Rep. Daniel Webster. “I will continue to work with my colleagues to preserve and protect our domestic farms and ensure farmers are provided with the stability needed to continue their important work.”

“In 2019, Florida’s agriculture industry generated $7.8 billion from a variety of agricultural crops – from citrus, blueberries, and watermelon to everything in between,” said Rep. Kat Cammack. “As one of our state’s leading economic drivers, we know how important Florida agriculture is to the Sunshine State and the nation. I’m grateful to my colleagues for their support of this bipartisan effort to make sure Florida’s farmers receive the necessary aid to recover from this historic freeze.”

“Florida farmers play a pivotal role in our nation’s agriculture industry. Unfortunately, recent freezing temperatures in our state have significantly affected producers, as they continue to confront the disruptions created by ongoing supply chain issues,” said Rep. Neal Dunn. “I am proud to join my Florida Congressional colleagues in urging USDA Secretary Vilsack to approve the disaster declaration and free up the resources necessary to support a full recovery.”

Signers of the letter include Florida Representatives Cammack, Soto, Diaz-Balart, Lawson, Wilson, Steube, Gimenez, Murphy, Frankel, Waltz, Salazar, Wasserman Schultz, Crist, Castor, Buchanan, Deutch, Donalds, Posey, Dunn, Bilirakis, Mast, Demings, Rutherford, Franklin, and Senators Rubio and Scott.

Read the full text of the letter here or below.

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

We write to express support for the State of Florida’s request that you issue a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Disaster Declaration for counties impacted by freezing temperatures on January 29 through January 31, 2022. We further ask that, in accordance with the State’s request, any and all support under the Farm Service Agency and other USDA programs be made available to impacted farmers.

As you know, from January 29 through January 31, areas of Central and South Florida saw temperatures plunge to their lowest in more than a decade. This record-breaking drop and subsequent, prolonged freeze, damaged crops in areas across the state. In response to this sudden and historic freeze, Governor DeSantis issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in thirty counties across Florida. The order will allow assistance to all impacted counties to ensure the swift movement of emergency supplies, personnel, and agricultural goods.

Agriculture makes up an important piece of Florida’s economy and global exports. Florida’s agricultural industry generated an estimated $7.8 billion in 2019 from a variety of crops ranging from citrus to commodities to livestock. Yet, this hard freeze, following years of natural disasters and abnormally heavy rainfall, have threatened the resilience of our state’s producers. What’s more, this freeze occurred at a critical time in the year for the development of our state’s crops. Initial reports have shown significant losses of fruit and vegetable crops and our state’s citrus producers have also recorded potentially serious damage. We appreciate the Governor’s attention to assisting our agriculture industry at this critical moment, but it cannot be done alone. USDA’s disaster programs are essential to ensure our producers can fully recover from this unprecedented freeze.

We respectfully ask that you urgently review and respond to the State of Florida’s request and issue a Disaster Declaration, subject to all applicable laws and regulations, for all counties impacted by the freezing temperatures.