Commissioner’s AgriCorner: A Mid-Term Update

Commissioner’s AgriCorner: A Mid-Term Update
What’s Been Done and What’s Left to Do?

Just two years ago, I was sworn in to serve as Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, and this month marks the halfway point in my four-year term. Looking back on the last two years, I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, but I recognize there’s still much more work to do. I greatly appreciate your continued support of my efforts. My number one priority has been and will continue to be strengthening Florida’s economy by opening new markets for Florida’s agricultural products, improving education, protecting the quality and quantity of our water supply, and growing opportunities for energy production.

By establishing relationships with international trade partners, I’m fostering continued growth in demand for Florida-grown products. As a result, we’re increasing production and creating new jobs, which help to ensure the prosperity of Florida families and businesses.
Bringing a “common sense” approach to the state’s school nutrition program, I’ve introduced more locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables to Florida’s school cafeterias. With this new approach, we’re not only opening new markets for Florida’s growers, but we’re also improving the nutritional value of school meals. I believe that by offering our students more healthy options at school, we can establish a foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating and, ultimately, reduce long-term obesity-related healthcare costs.

I fought against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Florida’s right to manage the quality of its own rivers, streams, and coastal waters. In December, the EPA approved Florida’s Numeric Nutrient Criteria Rule in its entirety, effectively acknowledging that Florida’s approach is based on sound science and will ensure that our waters are safe for all Floridians. I will continue to work to ensure that Florida remains in control of the state’s own destiny.

Assuming the responsibilities of the state’s energy office in 2011, my first action was to evaluate state and federal energy grant programs administered by this office. My audit uncovered fraud and bankruptcy, saving taxpayers nearly $2.5 million. Since then, I’ve worked in partnership with the Florida Legislature to develop energy policies with the objective to secure a stable, reliable and diverse supply of energy to support Florida’s economic growth. What we need is an all-of-the-above approach that does not pick winners and losers, but instead relies on the market to determine what energy sources are abundant, affordable and environmentally sound.

As a member of the Florida Cabinet, our joint efforts have resulted in a $2 billion reduction in the state’s outstanding debt. This is the second year in a row that we’ve reduced outstanding debt, reversing a longstanding trend. In addition, we have saved an additional $1 billion by refinancing existing debt. We’re working diligently to ensure that government lives within its means.

I, alone however, cannot take credit for the success of my first two years as Commissioner of Agriculture. Your faith in me enabled us to tackle some of the most difficult challenges facing our state and improve existing programs to better serve you. In addition, many of these accomplishments would not have been possible without my partners in the Legislature and my fellow Cabinet members.

With two years left in my term, I plan to build on these early successes and continue to work every day to make Florida the destination of choice to live, work, play and raise a family. I am honored to serve our state in this capacity and humbled to have this opportunity. Thank you for helping me be successful.

CREDIT

column by COMMISSIONER ADAM H. PUTNAM

BIO: Adam H. Putnam is commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. He was elected to that office in 2010. He formerly served the public as a member of the Florida House of Representatives and the U.S. Congress.