Ag Policy Blog

Democrat Wins Florida Ag Commissioner Race

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent

In an extraordinary development in state agricultural politics, Democrat Nikki Fried won the race for agriculture commissioner in Florida while Republicans won both the Florida governorship and the Senate seat as well as other lower level state races.

“After grueling machine and manual recounts for the razor-thin race, Fried emerged victorious in the contest to replace term-limited Adam Putnam by just 6,753 votes — a margin of 0.08 percent,” the Miami Herald said.

The race also showed the importance of the nonfarm vote in the agriculture commissioner’s race in those states that still elect agriculture commissioners.

Fried is an attorney from southern Florida.

As the Herald said, “Fried’s campaign, which was heavily predicated on gun control and expanding access to medical marijuana, brought an understanding of the agriculture commissioner’s role to those outside of the farming community. Or, in other words — Democrats, suburbanites and urban dwellers.”

“These were things that transcend Democrats, independents and Republicans,” Fried said of her platform. “I made them believe that I want to fix things and make things better.”

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture has said that its leaders expect the election to change about 40 percent of its membership. In states in which the governor appoints the agriculture commissioner or director, most will get new agriculture commissioners or directors even if the party of the governor has not changed.

Miami Herald — How Nikki Fried became Florida’s agriculture commissioner…

Stabenow reviewing House farm bill proposal

Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said through a spokeswoman over the weekend that she is still considering the farm bill proposed by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and House Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn.

“The House and Senate are continuing to exchange offers daily, bringing us closer and closer to a final deal. We’re reviewing the latest proposal and remain committed to reaching a practical bipartisan agreement as soon as possible,” the Stabenow spokeswoman said.

On Friday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said that he needed to review the bill before commenting.

Aderholt: Too early to comment on USDA, FDA plan on cell-based meat

A spokesman for House Agriculture Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., said over weekend that it is “too early for us to respond just yet” to a decision by the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration to decide on a plan to share jurisdiction over the production of cell-cultured food products.

The question of whether USDA or the FDA should have primary control over cell-cultured protein, also known as “clean meat” or “fake meat,” depending on which group is discussing the subject, is an issue in the finalization of the fiscal year 2019 Agriculture appropriations bill that Congress is expected to act on by December 7 when current funding expires.

“Because our agencies have the statutory authority necessary to appropriately regulate cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry the Administration does not believe that legislation on this topic is necessary,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a joint statement.

“After several thoughtful discussions between our two agencies that incorporated this stakeholder feedback, we have concluded that both the USDA and the FDA should jointly oversee the production of cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry,” Perdue and Gottlieb said in their joint release Friday.

“Drawing on the expertise of both USDA and FDA, the agencies are today announcing agreement on a joint regulatory framework wherein FDA oversees cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation,” the two agencies said in the joint release.

“A transition from FDA to USDA oversight will occur during the cell harvest stage. USDA will then oversee the production and labeling of food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry. And, the agencies are actively refining the technical details of the framework, including robust collaboration and information sharing between the agencies to allow each to carry out our respective roles.”

Cattle groups have disagreed on which agency should have joint jurisdiction.


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