As Florida's only statewide elected Democrat, Nikki Fried has been delivering for us since day 1 in office.
As Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki has been a staunch defender of Florida agriculture. She’s led the way in protecting business owners, defending farmworkers during the pandemic, and promoting innovation in the industry.
As Commissioner, Nikki…
- Established the Agriculture Innovation Workgroup and embarked on a trade mission to Israel to promote innovation.
- Urged the U.S. Department of agriculture to help defend against viral threats to crops
- Opposed the USMCA, former President Trump’s replacement for NAFTA, due to its negative impact on Florida growers
- Worked with large retailers like Publix and connected growers directly with consumers to support growers and boost sales during the pandemic
- Secured personal protective equipment for farmworkers and implemented safety guidelines to protect workers during COVID-19
In 2018, during her first run for office, Nikki campaigned on legalizing hemp to help our economy with more good-paying jobs, provide an alternative crop for farmers, and expand access to alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs.
Since taking office, Nikki has…
- Appointed Florida’s first-ever Cannabis Director
- Created a Hemp Advisory Committee to provide policy recommendations and held numerous workshops and hearings to provide transparency on the program’s rules
- Legalized hemp and provided licenses to thousands of companies through a permitting process that is accessible to all businesses
- Through the hemp program in just one year, generated an estimated $370 million in economic impacts, supported over 9,000 Florida jobs, and generated over $17 million in federal, state, and local tax revenue
Recognizing the climate crisis as an existential threat, Nikki refocused the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Energy to address the link between energy and our climate crisis, helping to propose the most ambitious energy and climate legislation that Florida has seen in a decade. Under her leadership, the Office of Energy hosted the first state summit on climate change since 2008, called for new energy conservation and efficiency standards for Florida, and released the first statewide energy and climate plan in a decade. Seeking a new approach, Nikki pressed to spark a new conversation on the state’s existing utilities energy efficiency standards, a system which hasn’t worked for decades.
In addition, Nikki has…
- Distributed millions in energy efficiency grants to local governments across Florida
- Hosted a Mayors Climate Forum on Earth Day with Florida officials and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti
- Voted against utilities’ pursuing new fossil fuel power plants
- Opposed developers’ request to pave over wetlands and damage Everglades restoration
- Called for an Emergency Cabinet Meeting to demand accountability for the Piney Point Disaster
- Opposed the Trump administration’s approval of toxic pesticide aldicarb and denied approval for the substance in Florida
- Opposed the Trump administration’s rollback of climate change policies, decision to hand over wetlands permitting to Florida’s government, and permits for Everglades oil exploration
- Proposed a State-Federal Partnership Plan with the Biden administration to fight climate change
- Introduced numerous resolutions to elevate conversations around climate and energy issues
- Rebuilt the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Agricultural Water Policy to emphasize Best Management Practices for water
- Referred over 6,000 noncompliant farms to the Department of Environmental Protection
In Florida, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees that state’s concealed weapons licensing program. Under the previous Agriculture Commissioner, background checks on concealed weapons license applications had lapsed for thirteen months and the National Rifle Association had far too much influence within the Department. While on the campaign trail in 2018, Nikki pledged to address the prior administration’s failures overseeing Florida’s two million concealed weapons licenses.
As Commissioner, Nikki…
- Added new oversight and accountability measures in licensing programs
- Reduced initial review times for concealed weapons licenses while ensuring all background checks were completed, despite a 76% increase in applications
- Proposed legislation to reduce the license renewal period, retain fingerprints to address a critical loophole, and require additional firearm safety training
- Raised awareness around gun violence issues through proclamations and town halls across the state
- Joined a lawsuit to overturn a state law that punishes local government officials who pass gun safety ordinances in their communities.
Nikki has elevated the consumer services duties of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services — many Floridians were unaware of the ways the Department could help with scams, fraud, and other consumer issues.
To protect consumers, Nikki has…
- Travelled the state to raise consumer awareness around the risk of gas pump skimmers that can cause up to $1 million in fraud per device.
- Created a new Deputy Commissioner of Consumer Services position to focus on protecting consumers
- Fought fraudulent travel agents and telemarketers by revoking telemarketing licenses after attempted fraud and fining bad actors who violated Florida’s do not call list
- Implemented robust consumer protection operations so that now, the Department is handling 200,000 consumer questions and complaints annually, working hard to protect consumers and remedy fraud.
- Protected consumers through food safety oversight, including new food safety guidelines during COVID-19
After Hurricane Michael devastated Florida’ Panhandle communities, Nikki has been a strong advocate for the region’s farmers and timber growers whose crops were ravaged by the storm. She made several trips to impacted areas, led tours of lawmakers through affected communities, pressed Congress to pass legislation that would assist with disaster assistance, and urged then-U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Perdue to classify timber as a crop, so growers could access crop insurance. Through consistent engagement with the USD, Nikki secured $380 million in federal block grant funds to help growers recover from Hurricane Michael.
Nikki also led the Department’s response to Hurricane Dorian, issuing emergency orders on gas supply and animal movements, closing state forests and campgrounds, deploying the Department’s wildland firefighters and law enforcement personnel to assist with response operations, and inspecting gas stations for gas pump skimmers and other issues after the storm.
After Hurricane Sally flooded farmers’ fields in the Panhandle, Nikki visited to see the damage firsthand and held a group meeting with local growers who were impacted. She ensured their stories, needs, and concerns were taken to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pushing for and getting approval for federal disaster loans to help farmers’ recovery efforts.
As a member of the Florida Cabinet, Nikki also is a member of the state’s Clemency Board, which oversees the restoration of civil rights for Floridians who have served their sentences. During her time as Agriculture Commissioner, she’s used her position to serve as a fierce advocate for changing Florida’s clemency rules, which have been called “crushingly restrictive”, as well as calling for the proper implementation of Amendment 4.
Consistently, Nikki has called for new clemency rules, to automatically restore civil and voting rights for people who have served their sentences, and to move through the backlog of 10,000 clemency applicants waiting for a chance to be heard. Through direct appeals to her Clemency Board colleagues and town hall meetings, she has continued to push for justice on behalf of those who have served their sentences and are seeking to rejoin sociality with voting and other civil rights. Recently, Governor DeSantis announced some changes to the clemency rules that fall far short of previous recommendations that Nikki has proposed.
Nikki also led the push to pardon the wrongly-accused Groveland Four and worked with numerous legislators seeking their full exoneration.
With nearly three million Floridians facing food insecurity, including 850,000 children, Nikki has made taking on hunger a top priority. During this pandemic, and before, Nikki has been taking action on hunger — she knows that the cost of inaction on food insecurity is too great and that we must do more to make sure people, especially children, aren’t wondering where their next meal will come from.
To fight food insecurity, Nikki has…
- Held events to promote anti-hunger programs across Florida since the day of her inauguration
- Helped serve 74 million meals during the pandemic through the department’s Summer BreakSpot program
- Consistently advocated for universal free school meals
- Led a partnership with Walmart on a Rural Food Grant to fight hunger in rural communities
- Launched the FDACS Hunger-Free School Campus program, which encourages schools to play an active role in reducing food insecurity on their school campus and in the community
- Launched the Florida Breakfast Challenge, which aims to increase student participation in school breakfast.
- Sought funding for grant programs to expand access to fresh foods in food deserts, a proposal to establish universal free school breakfast and lunch across Florida, and provide tax credits to farmers who donate farm-fresh food.
- Opposed former President Trump’s cuts to food stamp programs
As the first woman elected as Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki has worked to modernize the Department to better reflect today’s Florida. One of her first actions was banning workplace discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity, she’s the first Florida Cabinet member to do so. Nikki also established new positions, appointing the state’s first-ever LGBTQ Consumer Advocate, the Department’s first Director of Diversity of Inclusion, and has appointed a record number of women to positions of leadership, including two Deputy Commissioners, a Deputy Chief of Staff, and numerous Director-level leaders.
After the murder of George Floyd, Nikki started a new Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion work group within the Department, a twelve-member committee of diverse backgrounds and perspectives. The group reviewed existing policies and developed recommendations to improve diversity, inclusion, and equity within the Department. Based on recommendations from the group, she changed the Department’s Administrative Policies and Procedures to add inclusion as a core value, updated the use of force, de-escalation, and excessive force intervention by the Department’s law enforcement office, reformed to discrimination complaint procedures, and made other changes.
Nikki has advocated for her fellow members of the Florida Cabinet to make similar changes to their administrative policies to help increase diversity, equity, and inclusion within the state agencies they oversee — because she believes Florida’s government should be more reflective of our state.