Agriculture is an integral part of Central Florida’s thriving economy. With hard-working farmers, fertile land, a lush climate, and a year-round growing season, we help feed our country and the world. Agriculture and national resource industries manage about two-thirds of our state’s land area. Conservation and sound environmental management on these lands are critical to maintaining clean water and air, wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation areas, and guarding against climate change.
In the 9th District, we have over 300,000 acres of farmland, including the top cattle producing county in Florida (Osceola) and the second-highest citrus producing county (Polk).
Crop, livestock, forestry and fisheries production output and direct employment are:
Osceola: output $108 million; jobs 622
Polk: output $712 million; jobs 11,534
Orange: output $285 million; jobs 2,929
As a member of the Agriculture Committee, Darren is working in Congress to support and grow these industries, maintaining support for workers in these jobs, and the communities that depend on them. He is working on the Agriculture Committee and with the Appropriations Committee to fund research to combat citrus greening, which is hurting our groves. He is working to advance cattle research and provide access to crop insurance for our emerging blueberry and peach growers.
Darren also serves on the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit. He is working on this subcommittee to ensure the smooth functioning of commodity exchanges, promote access to agricultural credit, and support rural development and electrification.
Selected bills on the agriculture co-sponsored by Congressman Soto:
H.R.831 - BALE Act of 2017 – The bill replaces the existing 80% limit on the portion of a loan that USDA may guarantee with limits that range from 80%-90%, depending on the principal amount of the loan. For socially disadvantaged or beginning farmers or ranchers, the bill replaces the existing 90% limit with limits that range from 85%-95%, depending on the principal amount of the loan.
H.R.1406 - Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act of 2017 – To amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption.
H.R.800 - New Deal Rural Broadband Act of 2017 – To establish the Office of Rural Broadband Initiatives within the Department of Agriculture, to preserve open Internet requirements. The Under Secretary shall administer all rural and underserved areas broadband-related grant, loan, and loan guarantee programs administered by the Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service
H.R.909 - Pet and Women Safety Act of 2017 – To protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence from emotional and psychological trauma caused by acts of violence or threats of violence against their pets.
H.R. 1847 – PAST ACT – To amend the Horse Protection Act to designate additional unlawful acts under the Act, strengthen penalties for violations of the Act, improve Department of Agriculture enforcement of the Act, and for other purposes.
H.R. 1626 - Student Agriculture Protection Act of 2017 To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exclude from gross income certain amounts realized on the disposition of property raised or produced by a student farmer, and for other purposes.
HR 112 – Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act of 2017 - To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to temporarily allow expensing of certain costs of replanting citrus plants lost by reason of casualty.