/Nikki Fried, Florida’s first female agriculture commissioner, prepares for departure

Nikki Fried, Florida’s first female agriculture commissioner, prepares for departure

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In A few week, Florida’s first feminine Commissioner of Agriculture and Shopper Providers will finish her first and solely time period. Nikki Fried spent the final 4 yrs On the helm of the division, difficult the governor’s insurance coverage policies As a Outcome of the solo Democrat Inside the FloridA cupboard.

Fried was elected in 2018, worthwhile a shock victory that had some considering she was The biggest method forward for the Democratic Celebration in Florida. Fried stays The one Democrat to wInside the state in A few decade. However after a failed bid for governor earlier this yr, she’s departing her submit And by no means using A mannequin new office ready. Even so, Fried was Joyful with her doc.

“I ran on three guidelines — weed, water and weapons,” Fried said. “Going by way of every of these factors, we accomplished Greater than I even anticipated, then we did Tons extra.”

Fried said she diversified the office, elevated hunger consciousness and assisted the agriculture sector navigate the pandemic and 5 hurricanes. She additionally established Florida’s hemp program after the state accredited the commercialization of the versatile plant in 2019.

Beneath Fried’s administration, she said, hemp had made a Greater than $370 million financial influence, created 9,000 jobs, and now has 19,000 permitted acres in 64 counties.

“This actually is one factor That is going To maneuver— not simply our state forward — but our nation forward,” she said.

Fried thinks the incoming Republican commissioner, former Senate President Wilton Simpson, will share in her imaginative and prescient of hemp’s potential. She anticipated The earlier lawmaker would proceed to assist This method over The subsequent 4 yrs.

Simpson recently met with Fried to get Familiar with his new submit. The two spent almost 4 hours collectively, and Fried said she provided Wilton some “phrases of information.”

“That might not a partisan office,” Fried said. “Daily, we Get up making an try To make sure that We’re advocating for agriculture, that We’re defending our consumers, that We’re advancing their pursuits as a member of the FloridA cupboard. That is what I Sort of associated to him. This office is particular.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis might disagree on whether or not FDACS is a partisan submiting. The Republican caught A lot of flack from Fried’s office Through the yrs. She frequently despatched letters calling for DeSantis to do extra on factors like pretty priced housing, felony simplyice and marijuana. She requested federal officers To evaluation the governor’s migrant deportation program and most recently, state prisons.

After yrs of the missives, DeSantis said this in August:

“She had An alternative as being The one Democrat elected state-broad to practice some management And mightbe get some factors carried out,” DeSantis said whereas talking with reporters after A cupboard meeting “Instead, she’s used her time to principally Attempt and smear me Every day. That’s all she does.”

It wasn’t On A daily basis like this. Fried and DeSantis started their time durations working cooperatively on factors Just like the environment. Their relationship seems to have taken An monumental dive Through the pandemic As a Outcome of the two differed on COVID insurance coverage policies. DeSantis resisted lockdowns and mandates. Fried needed native authoritiess to have administration and, at occasions, advocated for factors like a statebroad masks order.

“My largest remorse— there wasn’t enough alternatives To actually current the synergy between myself and The The rest of The cupboard,” Fried said. “Instead, it turned a Ron DeSantis vs. Nikki Fried wrestle Each time Rather than making an try To level out the nation what it appears like For two main members of their events To have The power to work collectively.”

Fried said her subsequent step is To Think about The Prolonged time period. One other run for public office Is potential, but Inside the extra quick future, she’s Taking A look at working with Democrats in DC as an professional on Florida, its Republicans, and its chief authorities — who Might Even be eyeing a presidential run.

“To Be In a place to make the most of my voice To make sure that we get a Democrat— whether or not its president Biden mirrored in 2024 or another Democrat, and To make sure that I am not leaving my state behind,” Fried said.

Based mostly on her office, Fried’s final day is Jan. 2.