It has been a great privilege to represent Florida as Commissioner of Agriculture for the last four years, and I’m proud of what we have been able to accomplish together, not only for our $100 billion agriculture industry, but also for all of our state’s 19 million residents. We have worked hard to grow and protect Florida agriculture, safeguard our residents, foster academic success for our next generation, and honor American veterans.
To grow our agriculture industry, I launched the first-ever statewide television advertising campaign for “Fresh From Florida” products, featuring local products in simple recipes. We also established 52 retail partnerships to provide Florida-grown products to more than 12,000 stores worldwide. Consumers in more than 170 countries now enjoy “Fresh From Florida” products. In addition, we have worked to identify and eliminate threats to our industry like citrus greening and water supply issues so that this industry, and its two million jobs, continues to thrive.
I also recognized an opportunity to improve the nutritional value of school meals by directing more wholesome, locally grown produce to Florida schools. We connected schools with local growers so they can access more fresh products at more affordable prices. With direct connections to growers, schools can save taxpayer dollars on transportation and processing of food purchases, and the produce they serve is fresher and more nutritious— giving students the fuel they need to succeed in the classroom.
Safeguarding consumers from fraud is one of my most important responsibilities, so we worked to protect residents, particularly our most vulnerable, from charitable fraud, identity theft, and telemarketing scams, among other threats.
To honor the sacrifices of America’s wounded veterans, I established Operation Outdoor Freedom. Through this program, we dedicated areas of Florida State Forests for use by wounded veterans and installed equipment to accommodate special needs. Since 2011, more than 700 wounded veterans have enjoyed Florida’s great outdoors as part of Operation Outdoor Freedom events. For many of them, this was their first experience spending time with their peers outdoors after returning home from duty.
While I’m proud of our accomplishments, I recognize our work is not done. Just five years ago, at the height of the global economic recession, the New York Times and TIME Magazine all but wrote Florida’s obituary. Since then, Florida has cut unemployment nearly in half, paid off $4 billion in debt and put another $3 billion in the bank. We were able to help Florida get back on the right track because we have fiercely defended a culture of problem-solving that has long been forgotten in places like Washington D.C., New York, Illinois, and California.
We must not relent. Florida can be the model for fighting the big problems that need solving for our children, grandchildren and all the generations to come who deserve a better version of the Florida we already love. Thank you for your continued support. I’m thrilled to serve as your Commissioner of Agriculture for another four years.
story by COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE ADAM H. PUTNAM
photo by MATT COBBLE