In recognition of National Ag Day, Congressman Patrick E. Murphy (FL-18), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade, announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved a purchase of up to $4.3 million of Florida grapefruit juice from the Indian River Citrus League for their Child Nutrition and Domestic Food Assistance Programs. This announcement came on the heels of a letter sent by Representative Murphy and Representative Tom Rooney (FL-17) to the USDA supporting the Indian River Citrus League's request. (Please find below and attached a copy of the letter).
"As we recognize National Ag Day today and reflect on the importance of agriculture to our nation, I cannot emphasize enough the important role Florida citrus plays in the State's economy as well as Florida's 18th Congressional District," said Rep. Murphy. "Recently, however, the grapefruit industry has been hard hit by invasive pests and diseases that has caused it to struggle. I applaud the USDA's approved purchase of grapefruit juice, which will not only promote healthy eating but also support this important industry during this difficult season."
March 14, 2013
Mr. David Shipman
United States Department of Agriculture
Acting Administrator for the Agriculture Marketing Service
120 Independence Ave. SW, Room 228W
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Mr. Shipman,
We are contacting you to express our strong support for the Indian River Citrus League's recent request that USDA purchase Florida grapefruit juice for the Child Nutrition and Domestic Food Assistance Programs.
USDA's implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act has made significant improvements to nutrition assistance programs in over 30 years. USDA has worked hand-in-hand with America's agriculture industry to fight hunger and support our rural economies. We applaud these efforts and ask for your continued support of policies that promote healthy eating and support our nation's farmers.
The Florida citrus industry represents an important part of the state's economy; generating at least 75,000 jobs annually and contributing roughly $4.5 billion in GDP. Since 2005, the industry has been hit hard by invasive pests and diseases. This year's grapefruit crop is experiencing extraordinary and unexpected droppage, and it is projected that droppage rates will exceed those of any other non-disaster season.
A robust citrus industry is critical to the state of Florida. Not only would a favorable decision by the Department in a grapefruit purchase ensure a healthy and nutritious product for those served through the Child Nutrition and Domestic Assistance Programs, but it would have the important benefit of helping stabilize a market that has been dramatically affected by the industry's poor conditions this year.
Please consider a grapefruit juice purchase to help stabilize this hard-hit industry for child nutrition and other food assistance programs. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Patrick E. Murphy
Member of Congress
Thomas J. Rooney
Member of Congress