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Source: Nat'l Cattlemen's Beef Assn news release

When my friends in Washington, D.C. ask me about Florida, like many people outside the state, they often think of Florida only for its sunshine and beaches. Many of them are surprised to hear that Florida is also home to some of the largest cattle ranches in the country. For almost 500 years, the cattle industry has contributed significantly to Florida's economy and natural resources. Multi-generational family ranches have cared for the land, provided employment for many residents and contributed greatly to the local tax base.

I've had the opportunity to meet with several Florida ranchers and I am encouraged by their love for their country and for their state. As a 22- year veteran of the U. S. Army, I value "straight talk", character and patriotism. Florida's ranchers have shown me all of these things and I appreciate them for it. Florida's cattle producers are good stewards of the land as owners and caretakers of thousands of acres of pristine native range and pasture land.

My recent decision to pull support from H.R. 3798, otherwise known as the United Egg Producers Inspection Act, caught many people off guard. However, for anyone who knows me and understands my principles, the decision should come as no surprise.

After digging more into the ramifications of the "egg bill," I found it increasingly difficult to support. The bill would require egg producers to double the space allotted per hen and mandate farming practices across the nation with a one-size fits all rule. This type of federal reach sets a dangerous precedent for government regulation of animal agriculture and would no doubt be a slippery slope into other industries, such as the beef and pork industries. Not to mention, the proposed legislation could increase food prices across our country at a time when millions of Americans are already food insecure. We have a market that allows purchasing choices and it should remain that way.

Rather than the federal government issuing burdensome regulations to private businesses, the free market should drive how farmers decide what to do in the interest of business. If the public demand for chickens in larger cases grows, then farmers should have the chance to adapt to the growing demand rather than having it mandated by Congress.

My principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility have never and will never waiver. I have the utmost respect for the private entrepreneurs and the generations of Florida ranchers who have made Florida what it is today, rich with culture and heritage. I respect their right to run their businesses as they see fit and I resent any form of government intrusion into their professional work.

Florida is better off because of its cattle ranches. Our beef industry is better off when the federal government stays out of the way.

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