Diaz-Balart Meets with Agriculture Industry Leaders to Discuss Concerns, Answer Questions
LABELLE, FL –Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) met with members of Florida’s agriculture industry earlier this afternoon in LaBelle. Local farm owners, cattle ranchers, and crop growers participated in a roundtable hosted by the Congressman in an effort to discuss concerns and answer questions from the participants.
“Florida’s diverse agriculture industry is the backbone of the state’s economy. I’m grateful to hear directly from the growers, ranchers, and farmers of Southwest Florida about their vision, concerns, and opportunities for the agriculture industry. I continue to hear that the current H-2A program simply doesn’t work, and it is imperative that growers have access to a workable system that provides a reliable and skilled workforce to help operate a business successfully and feed American families without having to rely on foreign countries for their imports. We must also do more to combat the harmful invasive pests and diseases that threaten commodities throughout states, especially citrus greening. I am committed to ensuring Florida’s specialty crop producers can best handle the uncertainty of farming, remain competitive in a global marketplace, have access to tools to prevent the spread of invasive pests and diseases, and work towards a fair and equitable agriculture worker system,” said Congressman Diaz-Balart.
Ron Hamel, executive vice president of the Gulf Citrus Growers Association, participated in today’s roundtable and offered his insight on the problems GCGA faces.
“The citrus growers of Southwest Florida's Gulf region greatly appreciate Congressman Diaz-Balart's leadership in working with his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to pass immigration reform legislation that addresses our critical work force needs. The Gulf Citrus Growers Association is also pleased to hear Congressman Diaz-Balart's continual support for federal citrus research funding to assist our industry in its battle with the dreaded citrus greening bacterial disease that is threatening Florida's, Texas', and California's industries as well. We appreciate his leadership in securing the necessary support for our battle with this disease, and others that could impact our industry,” said Mr. Hamel.
Florida’s agriculture industry is one of the nation’s largest and is a significant part of the state’s economy, totaling $8.26 billion dollars in 2011.