- Sen. Marco Rubio introduced legislation this week that seeks to modify the Federal Crop Insurance Act.
- Rubio’s measure would establish and create research and development initiatives for specialized insurance policies to safeguard key Florida crops such as sugarcane, citrus, and tomatoes, against unpredictable cold weather conditions in winter.
- Rep. Scott Franklin has introduced companion legislation in the opposite chamber.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio this week introduced a bill aimed at bolstering crop insurance against frost and cold weather events via an amendment to the Federal Crop Insurance Act.
Rubio’s proposal, the Temperature Endorsement for Multi-Peril Policies (TEMP), would establish research and development initiatives into specialized insurance policies for a variety of crops, including Florida’s biggest agricultural exports like sugarcane, citrus, and tomatoes, which are vulnerable to unpredictable cold weather conditions during winter months.
Under the measure, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation would also be required to submit a report to the Senate and House Agriculture Committees that outlines the research findings and provide recommendations for future legislation.
“Florida’s growers are vital to our state’s economy and the security of our national food supply,” said Rubio. “The TEMP Act is a commonsense solution that will help our specialty crop growers access affordable crop insurance, and recover from the devastating impacts of deep freezes and cold exposure.”
Rep. Scott Franklin has introduced companion legislation in the opposite chamber.
“Deep freezes often cause significant damage to Florida’s agricultural industry, a significant source of America’s citrus, sugarcane and other important fruit and vegetables,” said Franklin. “Unfortunately, growers in Florida’s heartland do not have access to reasonably priced specialty-crop insurance, making it difficult to recover after harsh winters.”
In the 2021–22 growing season, a mild but destructive freeze in late January caused significant damage to the Florida orange crop. Initially, the USDA forecasted the annual crop yield at 47 million boxes, but the final estimate was reduced to 41.05 million boxes, partly due to the freeze damage, which subsequently affected emerging blooms. Consequently, the 2022–23 crop was depressed.
While specific economic data on the freeze’s impact was not readily available, the overall impact of extreme weather events, like Hurricane Ian, can be significant. For instance, Hurricane Ian’s damage to Florida agriculture, including seasonal crops, livestock, and nursery products, was estimated to be between $787 million and $1.56 billion.