Florida's Cabinet consists of the agriculture commissioner, attorney general and chief financial officer, all elected statewide. The governor also sits on the Cabinet. Serving as the board of directors of several state agencies, the Cabinet discusses agency business and makes policy decisions for the agencies during biweekly meetings.
Formally known as the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the office oversees a wide variety of programs. Those include food and nutrition, consumer resources and concealed weapons, forests and agriculture, and energy and water.
After two terms in the Florida House and 10 years in Congress, Putnam became agriculture commissioner in 2011. The Republican hails from a family-operated citrus growing business. With such a strong political and agricultural background, he has served Florida well over the past four years.
The state's signature crop -- big in Manatee County -- has been devastated by the deadly citrus greening disease, and Florida recently committed more than $50 million toward research to combat both greening and laurel wilt. The U.S. Farm Bill contains $125 million in citrus research funding over the next five years. Putnam played a pivotal role in passage of both unprecedented research measures.
He has made food access one of his priorities, focusing on locally grown products and cottage food industries. As such he launched a web-based tool called "Roadmap to Healthy Living. "The site uses census data to pinpoint communities most in need of food -- all in order to target resources and funding to improve the health and well-being of neighborhoods. This achievement allows communities to focus aid on the neediest residents.
Another Putnam priority is increasing economic opportunities and prosperity. During his term, exports of Florida agricultural products have grown by almost $1 billion, a 30 percent increase, with around 25,000 new jobs being created. By establishing 52 retail partnerships, Florida-grown products are now sold in more than 12,000 stores worldwide.
For his achievements and stewardship of the department, he has earned another term. The Herald recommends Adam Putnam for state agriculture commissioner.