As he approaches his 100th day in office, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam reflected today on his accomplishments in regard to his top three priorities: improving Florida? health and nutrition, fostering expansion of Florida? agriculture industry into renewable energy production and preserving Florida? water quality and quantity. In addition, Commissioner Putnam is also focused on restoring public confidence in the safety of Gulf seafood and carrying out other missions of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
?t the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, we?e focused on issues that affect not only farmers and ranchers, but all Floridians,?said Commissioner Putnam. ?utrition, energy and water are issues that will shape our state for generations to come.?
Continuing his long-standing commitment to improving nutrition, Commissioner Putnam is working to expand access to high-quality, nutritious foods for Floridians in urban core areas, public assistance programs and our school cafeterias. He worked with the Legislature to introduce the Healthy Schools for Healthy Lives Act, a bill that will move school nutrition programs to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, allowing school cafeteria menus to offer more of Florida? abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. The proposed legislation garnered unanimous support by the Senate Agriculture and House State Affairs Committees and continues to gain momentum with strong bipartisan support.
?? proud of the strides we?e made in the first 100 days. While we still face many challenges ahead, the strength of Florida? $100 billion agriculture industry presents exciting opportunities for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.?
Reinforcing his belief that Florida can be a leader in renewable energy production, Commissioner Putnam is exploring the state? current energy production efforts and potential future opportunities. Last month, Commissioner Putnam visited two construction sites for future biomass conversion facilities in Highlands County. The two projects are expected to bring nearly 1,000 jobs to the area and produce more than 60 million gallons of biofuel per year. To foster expansion of Florida agriculture into renewable energy production, Commissioner Putnam is working with the Legislature to grow the Department? Office of Agricultural Water Policy into an Office of Energy and Water Policy.
Next, Commissioner Putnam has taken a strong stance on the need to maintain a high standard of water quality supported by sound science and attainable goals. In partnership with Attorney General Pam Bondi, Commissioner Putnam filed suit in federal court to challenge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency? (EPA) numeric nutrient criteria for Florida? springs, lakes and streams. He believes this regulation lacks the appropriate sound science to justify its implementation and is estimated to cost Florida billions of dollars.
Furthermore, Commissioner Putnam is focused on restoring consumer confidence in the safety of Florida? Gulf seafood. Nearly one year since Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, Commissioner Putnam and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is debunking the myth that Gulf seafood is tainted by the oil spill. The Department is the leader among Gulf coast states in testing seafood for effects of the oil spill and results show that Florida seafood is safe and plentiful and has not been affected by the oil spill. Through its ?ulf Safe?campaign, the Department is working to raise awareness for the proven safety of Gulf seafood and encourage consumers across the nation and all over the world to enjoy all that Florida? waters have to offer. With an additional $20 million grant awarded from BP, the Department will increase its testing capabilities and enhance its marketing campaign to restore public confidence in safe and plentiful Gulf seafood.
This week, Commissioner Putnam will visit various parts of Florida to learn more about programs and initiatives that advance his top three priorities: nutrition, energy and water. On Thursday, he will visit the Gwinn Brothers Farm in McAlpin, where Donnell and Robert Gwinn will demonstrate their use of Best Management Practices (BMP) Program techniques for nutrient and irrigation management. Later on Thursday, Commissioner Putnam will meet with leadership of the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center for an update on progress. On Friday, he will visit two schools in Pinellas County, where students are growing fresh produce to serve in the schools?cafeterias.
Next week, Commissioner Putnam will visit the Florida Panhandle to provide an update on the safety of Gulf seafood and speak with local residents who were impacted by the oil spill.