Florida’s current Commissioner of Agriculture is Nikki Fried. Fried is the first woman elected to hold this post, which she was victorious in winning in 2018. In her role of Commissioner, Fried serves as a member of Florida’s Cabinet and is responsible for managing the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Fried has made it a priority to tackle food insecurity, advocate for consumers and family farmers, combat the spread of COVID-19, and protect both Florida’s environment and economic progress. She has received national attention for her successful efforts combatting hunger and protecting the state’s economy from the damaging consequences of the virus.
Fried has been widely praised for her work increasing nutrition assistance, promoting sustainable agriculture practices and expanding conservation efforts. She has also been praised for her determination to bring innovative solutions to Florida’s challenges, as she does not shy away from utilizing technological and scientific advancements to solve climate change and protect Florida’s ecosystems.
Fried has sought to build a more equitable and transparent government in Florida. She has successfully fought for improved access to health care and insurance coverage, improved food access through the expansion of nutrition programs, and improved child care services. She also works to ensure a more equitable taxation system, fairly allocate resources to address inequality, increase transparency of government actions, and combat corruption in the state.
In addition to Fried’s passionate commitment to advocacy, she is also a strong leader. She works closely with local leaders, legislators, and other state agencies to further her vision for improving Florida’s agriculture and the state’s overall welfare. Her legal background and policy expertise has enabled her to author several executive orders intended to help farmers, protect vulnerable populations, and ensure farmland is protected.
Fried is a devoted public servant who is dedicated to improving the lives of all Floridians. With her outstanding stewardship, she demonstrates that leaders can work together to make real and lasting change whether it is providing more opportunities to small farmers, improving access to healthy food, protecting water quality, or investing in renewable energy.
Commissioner Fried has made it a priority to tackle food insecurity in Florida by increasing access to nutrition assistance and increasing outreach for programs that are available to help at-risk populations. Fried has led efforts to increase the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) benefits for families affected by COVID-19, and incentivize Florida’s SNAP retailers and farmers to expand their array of healthy foods for participants. She and her team also work to eliminate administrative burdens, streamline procurement processes, and increase access to local and healthy foods for low-income families.
Fried has also promoted programs to help family farmers increase their access to markets, protect their farms and businesses, and increase the sale of their agricultural commodities. Fried and her team are committed to strengthening the sustainable agricultural practices that create more opportunities for farmers and guard against the effects of climate change. Fried has advocated for the development of a more inclusive agricultural environment and are striving to create a system that rewards farmer’s efforts in being ecological stewards.
Fried also works to improve food security and health by advocating for food safety and consumer protection measures. Fried’s team has worked to increase the safety of food manufacturing and distribution facilities, as well as improve awareness of food safety and allergen labeling requirements. Fried has also secured additional funding for the Food Safety Modernization Act, the industrial hemp pilot program, and the Economic Development and Culture Organizations Initiatives.
Finally, Fried has successfully sought to expand access to childcare, as the state was able to increase their budget for childcare programs by $97 million. This move allows for more families to become self-sufficient and reduce the chance of food insecurity for the next generation.
environmentally conscious policies
Commissioner Fried has made it a priority to protect Florida’s environment, water quality, and natural resources. Fried has launched innovative initiatives that seek to protect and restore a clean, safe, and healthy environment while also advancing sustainability practices. Fried has also been critical of oil drilling efforts in off-shore locations, citing potential harm that could come to Florida’s coastal communities and ecosystems.
Fried and her team have also advocated for renewable energy expansion and applaud the groundbreaking levels of solar energy the state has achieved. Fried is pushing for a greater commitment to clean energy, eyeing a target of 27 gigawatts of energy sourced from solar energy in the state. In pursuit of renewable energy, Fried has worked with local leaders to execute major solar projects like the Florida Keys Solar project, the Central Florida Solar Project, and the Gadsden County Solar Project.
Fried and her team also have worked to promote the use of energy-efficient and green building practices that take into consideration atmospheric quality. Commissioner Fried has worked to create a number of green building standards, such as net-zero energy buildings, that are designed to reduce energy consumption and improve efficiency. Fried and her team have also collaborated with various stakeholders to build out alternative, locally-sourced and sustainable sources of energy such as waste, hydropower, and biomass.
Furthermore, Commissioner Fried has been committed to the conservation and preservation of wild places and wildlife habitats in the state of Florida, working with partners and stakeholders to protect some of the state’s most valuable lands and waters. Fried has spearheaded efforts to protect and restore the Everglades and other environmentally sensitive lands, and to foster more collaborations between public, private, and other stakeholders to expand conservation efforts.
Fried also works to protect endangered species through initiatives such as the Florida Wildlife Corridors, a group of state efforts to expand and protect greenways, wetlands, and urban and rural wildlife habitats. Fried also collaborates with local and state partners to expand voluntary conservation measures such as the use of green infrastructure and water conservation best practices.
Advocating for Consumers
Commissioner Fried has made it a priority to advocate for consumers and ensure that they are receiving fair and equitable protections. Fried and her team have taken steps to ensure an equitable and transparent government and hold corporations accountable for their actions. Fried and her team work to ensure that all consumers are aware of their rights and remedies under Florida law, work with the federal government to improve the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and advocate for businesses to adhere to the Florida Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act.
Fried has also sought to increase accountability when it comes to businesses, particularly those that take advantage of consumers. Fried has stressed the need for businesses and corporations to be transparent in their business practices and increase consumer protection measures. Fried and her team have taken steps to end predatory actions, protect vulnerable populations from fraud and scams, and protect whistleblowers from retaliation.
Fried and her team have also worked to strengthen the laws that protect consumers. Fried issued an executive order to strengthen protections against price gouging and other deceptive practices. Fried and her team also passed a rule to hold banks accountable when their customers experience fraud, and worked with legislators to pass a bill that requires additional protections for first-time home buyers.
Finally, Fried and her team have been committed to increasing access to affordable healthcare, working to expand Medicaid, stabilize insurance markets, and prioritizing the needs of vulnerable populations. Fried and her team have conducted outreach programs that provide education and assistance to those who may be confused about their insurance options, and aim to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for all Floridians.
Combatting the Spread of COVID-19
Commissioner Fried has worked to combat the spread of COVID-19, utilizing her expertise in both policy and medical science to reduce the severity of the pandemic. Fried and her team have worked to provide outlets for testing and manage the data related to COVID-19 as it relates to Florida’s agricultural products. Fried also serves as a key member of the Florida Coronavirus Response Team, a task force that meets several times a week to develop strategic solutions to prolong the containment of the virus.
Fried and her team have also taken steps to ensure that businesses adhere to safety measures in the workplace. Fried issued an executive order that encourages the implementation of safety measures in public places, worksites, and farms, including a ban on nonessential work gatherings. Fried and her team have also provided guidance and assistance to businesses on ensuring safe operations during COVID-19.
In addition to Fried’s domestic efforts in protecting residents of the state, she has worked with international partners to help other countries combat the spread of the virus. Fried has collaborated with organizations in Honduras and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas to donate medical and agricultural supplies and provide medical guidance. By doing so, Fried has demonstrated her commitment to global health security and expanding the reach of Florida’s agricultural expertise.
Fried has also taken steps to increase access to affordable treatments and testing for COVID-19. Fried issued an executive order to increase access to testing for farmers and agricultural workers, as well as facilitate remote workplace access for workers in the agricultural sector. Fried also works to provide temporary housing to agricultural workers and their families that are essential to maintaining a stable food supply chain in the state.
Increasing Transparency in Government
Commissioner Fried has been committed to increasing the transparency and accountability of Florida’s government operations. Fried and her team have taken steps to make sure that the public can access government data more easily and that every decision is guided by evidence and facts rather than personal whims and biases. Fried and her team have increased transparency by making more state contracts public, demanding that public records are available to the media and public, and making sure that executive actions are recorded.
Fried and her team have also increased transparency in the decision-making processes within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Fried has worked to centralize and simplify the tracking of activities within the state’s executive and legislative branches, as well as better document decision-making processes and provide transparency reports on all departmental expenditures. Fried also works to ensure that the public has access to the official minutes, records, and votes of state and local bodies.
In addition, Fried has been dedicated to finding new ways to improve access to records and data that allow for increased oversight and monitoring in state government. Fried and her team have worked to bolster public oversight of state agencies, responding to public records requests in a timely and transparent manner, and conducting forensic reviews of agency operations.
Finally, Fried has also set up an online ‘Government in Action’ platform that displays data and archives concerning state government processes in real time. This platform is designed to provide greater transparency and accountability for Floridians on the programs, projects, and actions undertaken by state agencies. With this move, Fried demonstrates her dedication to an open and accountable government that is designed to serve the needs of all its citizens.