In 2016, rural Florida counties swung heavily to candidate Donald Trump. 2020 sees Florida Democrats seeking to avoid history repeating itself.
To that end, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services has a message from Joe Biden to rural voters.
“Joe Biden is listening. He hears us.”
Nikki Fried, a frequent Biden campaign surrogate, said on a press call Wednesday that Biden told her he understands how important the agriculture community is, in Florida and elsewhere.
“I had the opportunity to spend a couple of moments [with Biden] yesterday,” Fried said, referring to Biden’s first visit to Florida this calendar year, a two-stop swing on Tuesday
“He recognizes the importance of our agriculture community, not just in the state of Florida, but throughout America,” Fried added.
She noted that Biden’s concern for agriculture is nothing new. Whenever Fried sees Biden, she said the “first thing out of his mouth is asking ‘how are the farmers.'”
Fried addressed the plight farms faced in recent months, noting that during the pandemic, “smaller farms have been hurt and devastated,” exacerbating issues ranging from mental health to broadband infrastructure.
“We have a lot of work to do to make sure we are giving our rural community all of the resources and assets they need to survive, and to make sure that they are thriving and being productive members of our community,” Fried said.
The commissioner denounced tariffs from the Trump administration, part of a “damaging” trade war facilitated by the USMCA Trade Act, and said Biden would be the one to “stand up to China.”
Notably, Biden said recently the USMCA was “better than NAFTA.” The Commissioner did not address the seeming discrepancy between Biden’s position on the Trump trade deal and her own.
Fried said Biden would take “every aspect of agricultural production, from corn stalk to manure to create chemicals, materials, fabrics and fibers, in a process that is good for the environment, and creates new sources of revenue for farmers.”
Fried, a rising star in the party who spoke at last month’s Democratic National Convention, has for weeks been public about “looking into” a 2022 challenge to her fellow first-termer, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Her comments pivoted between policy and politics here, continuing a trend in place for some time.
Sen. Audrey Gibson, the Jacksonville Democrat who is closing out her two years leading the Senate caucus, likewise offered remarks on the technology gap in rural areas.
“COVID-19 has pulled the blinders off this situation,” Gibson said, extolling Biden’s plan as helping to facilitate access to the internet for home-based learning.
“Rural America, hello everyone, is a part of America,” the Senator insisted. “Joe Biden believes that the story of America is one of ordinary people, just like us, we’re ordinary people, moved to do extraordinary things.”
Farmers on the call expressed concerns of their own, including needs for access to capital, distributing healthy foods to food deserts, and better communication letting small farmers know what kind of federal help is available.
Gibson and Fried assured them that that Joe Biden has a plan to help.