The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) on Thursday submitted its budget request for fiscal year 2021-2022, which included dollars to replace Vietnam-era helicopters, money to market amid a trade war and funding for hemp inspections.
In all, FDACS’s Legislative Budget Request amounts to roughly $140 million. The total consists of $70 million in General Revenue funds, $70 million in State Trust Funds and $10 million in Federal Grants funding.
Notably, the budget request is 46% less than last year’s request. It comes as the state faces a projected $5.5 billion revenue shortfall amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our budget priorities of supporting Florida farmers, protecting consumers, improving water quality and energy efficiency, strengthening the hemp program, and more, are solutions-oriented and crucial not only to our Department’s success, but to our state’s,” Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a statement. “Our proposal reflects our continued commitment to a common-sense, fiscally responsible budget that meets the needs of our state’s agriculture community, consumers, and families.”
Fried continued: “We all must strive to serve as good stewards of taxpayer resources – our 4,300 employees do this daily as we continue to implement our vision to keep Florida growing.”
FDACS highlighted several budget areas within its request. Among them, FDACS requested $6.6 million in Trust Fund authority and $5.6 million in General Revenue authority for a replacement firefighting helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft. In a news release, FDACS said replacing the Vietnam-era helicopters was “critical.”
FDACS also requested $5 million in General Revenue funding for the Florida Agricultural Promotional Campaign (FAPC). The marketing arm will use the money to address “serious challenges” that include tariffs, trade wars, COVID-19 impacts, and disadvantages caused by the United States-Mexico-Canada
Additionally, $3.4 million in General Revenue was requested to inspect vendors selling and manufacturing vaping materials. Of the $3.4 million, $1.2 million will go toward purchasing lab equipment for hemp and vaping product analysis.
Funding was also requested to support citrus, pest management, water policy and land conservation.
FDACS’s full Legislative Budget Request can be found online.