Uninvited to Re-Open Task Force, Nikki Fried offers it her ideas
The Commissioner slammed the Governor again.

nikki fried
Offers 15 recommendations to promote and aid Florida agriculture in coronavirus crisis.

Snubbed by Gov. Ron DeSantis when he put together his Re-Open Florida Task Force, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has offered the panel her own recommendations for recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

The state’s only Democratic member of the Florida Cabinet has issued a 10-page report called “Recommendations to the Re-Open Florida Task Force from Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.” She mainly sticks to the agricultural realm, though she offers advice on improving Florida’s unemployment system.

The recommendations ask for protections for migrant farm workers and expansion of milk and produce purchases. She also gets into broader topics, such as chasing the Hurricane Michael federal relief money that was supposed to help Florida’s timber industry recover.

Her recommendations offer somewhat of a contrast to DeSantis’s Re-Open Florida Task Force’s Industry Working Group for Agriculture, Finance, Government, Healthcare, Management and Professional Services. which identified the industry as “low risk” for job loss, and has yet to offer many specific recommendations.

Fried offered 15, plus a little bit of annoyance that DeSantis hadn’t asked her for her ideas.

“As the Constitutional officer responsible for overseeing our state’s agriculture industry, and as your colleague on the Florida Cabinet, independently elected by the people of the great state of Florida, I am obliged to provide you with the following recommendations to be considered by the Re-Open Florida Task Force,” Fried stated in her cover letter to DeSantis.

“I speak on behalf of our state’s agriculture community in saying that discussion of re-opening our state’s economy is incomplete without a full consideration of agriculture issues,” she continued.

Those issues include:

– Encourage President Donald Trump and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase  Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments, and to accelerate those payments, and to prioritize assistance for seasonal crop growers.

This comes out of concern that the $16 billion set aside for farm relief in the federal CARES Act has limits that may do little to help Florida’s fruit, vegetable and dairy farmers.

– Encourage Trump and the USDA to abolish “misguided proposals” that suspend restrictions on imported fruits and vegetables, including suspension of a rule that requires country-of-origin labeling on produce.

– Encourage the USDA to purchase more Florida-grown produce, diary, meat, and seafood for its $32 billion effort to help keep food banks stocked with fresh foods.

– Encourage Trump and the U.S. Department of State to continue processing the H-2A visas that allow immigrant farm workers to come to Florida to pick seasonal fruit and vegetable crops.

– Encourage the USDA to complete its work to administer and distribute the $380 million block grants that Florida’s timber industry has been awaiting for relief from damages from the 2018 Hurricane Michael in the panhandle forests.

– Continue to provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) at the maximum level, seeking additional federal waivers to do so.

– Direct the Florida Department of Transportation to continue its trucking weight waivers.

– Replenish the Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program, which ran out of money after helping fewer than 1,000 of the 38,000 Florida small businesses that applied.

– Instruct state agencies to look for opportunities to increase purchases of Florida-grown foods and other commodities.

– Allocate at least $5 million for the Fresh From Florida campaign, in addition to the current budget.

– Work with the agriculture industry to ensure farmworkers have more access to masks and other personal protective equipment.

– “Swiftly” improve Florida’s unemployment system by raising staffing, increasing unemployment benefits, extending the duration of benefits, relaxing eligibility, and eliminating needless hurdles.

– Seek federal permission to allow WIC and SNAP beneficiaries to purchase a wider range of foods and non-foods including toiletries and cleaning supplies.

– Work more closely with Fried’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to develop a statewide rural health initiative.

– Sign HB 969, to establish a Florida office of broadband to expand broadband services into rural, unserved and underserved communities, and apply for federal money through the CARES Act  and the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine program for funding to rapidly expand it.

“The actions the re-Opening Task Force, your administration and we as state leaders take today will determine the strength of Florida agriculture tomorrow and in the years ahead,’ Fried concluded. “These actions will also chart a course for Florida’s consumers, vulnerable populations, and working families facing an uncertain future.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


14 comments

  • Sonja Fitch

    April 24, 2020 at 9:18 am

    Tests test test duffus Desantis. Slowing the testing to make YOU look good is going to pile the corpses of decent humans. Duffus Desantis you are a sick sociopath !!!! Truth facts and damn tests stupid

  • Bartholomew

    April 24, 2020 at 9:42 am

    Whe certainly know one member of the Florida Cabinet has a brain and knows how to use it. Most likely the rest of the Governors cabinet and open up panel is going to feel belittled, threatened, and intimidated by these significant Fried recommendations being the cretins they are. Wake up Florida and know you need to do the right thing and vote Blue until it hurts.

  • MoreNonsense

    April 24, 2020 at 10:04 am

    Looks like the DeSantis haters would support Nikki Fried, no matter what. If they bothered to read what her ideas consist of, they look like ideas that AOC or Bernie Sanders would have written.

    Most of these ideas are a Socialist dream.

    If this is the best Nikki Fried has to offer, it is clear why Gov. DeSantis rejected her assistance on this commission.

    • RALPH

      April 24, 2020 at 10:14 am

      Protecting workers is a socialist dream? Some would argue…

    • Tjb

      April 24, 2020 at 2:09 pm

      Nikki Fried will be our next governor. She will serve to the needs of Floridians and not to the whims of Trump.

      • john

        April 25, 2020 at 12:08 pm

        Nikki our next Gov? I hope.

  • Lynn

    April 25, 2020 at 11:49 am

    She is brilliant and on target.

    GOD BLESS MS FRIED. She is the only one who truly cares about us.

  • Jack J. Rose

    April 25, 2020 at 12:01 pm

    Nikki Fried seems to be the only politician in Tallahassee to truly be concerned about the farmer and consumer. Up until now, though I didn’t vote for him, I supported DeSantis because he demonstrated that he could think on his own. However, he has become Trump’s puppet and I hope he realizes that the great chances he had of climbing the political ladder are behind him. The PEOPLE elect individuals who are FOR THE PEOPLE! You have demonstrated throughout this COVID-19 pandemic that you are not! Mr. Pence has been Trump’s a__ kisser. Now, you are right behind him!

  • Dominic J Benevento

    April 25, 2020 at 1:55 pm

    I am sick and tired of conservatives branding anything they don’t like as socialist. WE as a society need to take care of each other especially those in most need. This is Christianity not socialism. Selfishness is not a virtue.

  • C.M.

    April 25, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    You Go Girl! We need your voice in our government

  • elaine furman

    April 25, 2020 at 4:07 pm

    DeSantis is a Trump clone and a puppet. He follows Trump regardless of how the people of Florida fare. Thanks to DeSantis & his predecessor crooked Rick Scott , Florida has poverty making unemployment payments. The people voted to allow people who fulfilled their obligations to their prison sentences to regain the right to vote, but DeSantis has put all kinds of blocks in that path. Most of these people will probably vote for Democrats, which is what makes the Republicans go crazy, because they know if they ran an open & honest campaign they would loose! When people are imprisoned they are still American citizens & should be allowed to vote without any loss of citizenship.

  • Jack J. Rose

    April 25, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    I could never accept the fact of how many idiots voted for Scott twice. He claims he didn’t know that Medicare was being billed by his company. Any CEO would know the truth, but crooks cover their tracks. It is because of Scott that 90% of our Floridians cannot collect unemployment because of what Scott did and didn’t do. DeSantis could have begun correcting the unemployment flaws as soon as he became governor. For a short time, I began to support DeSantis, not let’s see how many stupid, ignorant, and dumb voters vote for him again. Let’s see how many vote for Scott again. Let’s see how many vote for Trump again. We MUST encourage all voters who will cast their ballot in November to request an absentee ballot so they can vote and not worry about going in person. Let’s see how many of our smart, intelligent, and caring vote. Now is the time! Action speaks louder than words!! If you don’t vote, you have no right to open your mouth about anything. It’s up to all of us to vote!! No more complaining, V O T E!!!!

  • jrw

    April 29, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    So now nimrod nutjob nikki is upset that she doesn’t get to play with the rest of the cabinet. I mean all she has done since the beginning is run to Atlanta and get her face plastered on CNN backstabbing Governor DeSantis, try to claim fame for things she had no part in doing, opening up a website 4 weeks too late to “help” the farmers, and now she wants to participate in something where as soon as she can she will run to the lame stream fake news media and continue to stab DeSantis in the back and leak all sorts of propaganda and lies. Pathetic.

Comments are closed.


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