In 2016, 72% of Floridians voted to approve the use of medical marijuana. Despite this overwhelming mandate from the voters, Governor Scott and the Republican legislature have repeatedly obstructed its implementation. In doing so, they are denying sick and suffering Floridians access to medicine – including our seniors and veterans. As your next Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, I will be a fierce advocate for patient access to medical marijuana. It will be one of the top priorities of my administration to end the obstruction and ensure the people of Florida have access to the medicine prescribed by their doctors.
Over past few months, some disturbing problems have been brought to light regarding the issuance of Concealed Weapons Permits. This is one of the most critically important duties of the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services. On my first day in office, this administration will initiate a wholesale audit of the CWP department to determine the full extent of the failures, and implement new procedures and safeguards to ensure this never happens again. The Commissioner has a public safety obligation to ensure that a thorough and complete background check is completed on every person who applies for a CWP.
Citrus Greening is a devastating citrus disease which results in decreased crop yields and the eventual death of infected trees. My administration will continue to work with our citrus farmers, members of the agriculture community and research facilities like the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to find and implement a permanent solution to this serious problem.
The algae blooms in and around Lake Okeechobee have developed into an environmental crisis, especially along the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers. Both short and long-term solutions are needed. Florida’s governor and cabinet have neglected this issue for decades and it’s time that Florida has a Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services who will tackle the problem head on to make it right. I’ll work with the federal government, the governor and the state legislature to once and for all fund the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).
Our state needs to expand Florida’s successful Farm-To-School programs, and I will lobby the Florida Legislature to bring more funding to this critical program. It must be our priority to make sure that every meal served in our schools is fresh, nutritious and healthy. This will guarantee that our students get the nutrients they need to excel in the classroom. It’s also a fantastic way for kids to learn about the incredible agriculture community in Florida and to help boost the industry by buying directly from local producers.
As a lawyer who fought the big banks on behalf of homeowners during the mortgage crisis of 2008, I know a thing or two about protecting consumers. As your next Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, I’ll take that same fighting spirit with me to Tallahassee – because Florida needs it! Florida ranks #1 in telemarketing and gas pump fraud. Our state is simply not doing enough to pursue scammers, especially those seeking to take advantage of seniors. Me and my staff will implement proper protections to shield consumers from scams and pursue fraud to the fullest extent of the law.
Many people living in low-income areas have no access to fresh food because there are no grocery stores in their neighborhoods. The only food to which they have convenient access comes from corner stores, bodegas and fast food restaurants. That is unacceptable. My administration will work with supermarket chains to encourage and incentivize the opening of retail stores which serve all residents of our state. My staff and I will do the same thing locally by offering producers who participate in farmers markets in low-income areas a reward for doing so.
Access to fresh water will be one of the biggest issues Florida will face this century. It is the duty of the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services to enact best management practices to ensure that water conservation is prioritized. My administration will make sure that our residents and the agriculture community have access to safe water for drinking and for industrial purposes. This office will work closely with the Department of Environmental Protection on the enforcement of pollution standards in order to do so.
Florida should act to expand the already successful pilot program in place to begin growing industrial hemp on a larger scale. Embracing industrial hemp will have incredible benefits for our environment, while providing a new revenue source to struggling Florida farmers. Hemp can be grown for use as a paper product, textile, oil and many other uses. And as it grows, it also helps to refine our soil and water, potentially having an enormously positive impact on other crops growing in the same vicinity, all while allowing our local farmers an alternative to crops already in rotation. This is a no brainer for our state and our agriculture industry.
I believe in science. I believe that sea-level rise caused by climate change is already hurting Florida. Pulling out the Paris Climate Agreement was the wrong decision not only for our nation, but for our planet. As your next Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, my administration will work to ensure that our state makes responsible choices to combat the effects of climate change and sea-level rise. In the short-term, this means working with local governments to implement preparedness and resiliency measures. In the long-term, it means taking steps to reduce our state’s carbon footprint. I will also lean on the legislature to ban off-shore drilling and fracking.