The state agriculture commissioner race isn’t drawing as much attention as other decisions voters face Nov. 4, but it offers a candidate Florida voters should be enthusiastic about supporting.
Adam Putnam deserves re-election as commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Considering his political resume by age 40 and his accomplishments during his first four-year term as agriculture commissioner, it’s an easy decision to endorse his re-election to a four-year term.
Republican Putnam isn’t taking re-election for granted against a lesser-funded Democratic opponent who doesn’t match the track record and name recognition of Putnam, a fifth-generation Floridian with a family background in cattle ranching and citrus.
Putnam's agency has actively pushed for national and world consumption of 300-some agricultural commodities produced in Florida. He's embraced the U.S. Department of Agriculture's financial assistance to compensate growers for trees lost to greening, a disease threatening a citrus industry that pumps $9 billion into our economy and keeps about 75,000 people working.
Putnam's department has encouraged schoolchildren to learn healthy eating habits through a coordinated effort to connect lunch programs at Florida's public schools with producers of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables.
His concern for the well-being of Florida's youth doesn't stop there. He spearheaded legislation to protect tens of thousands of Florida children from identity theft, a crime that may not be detected for years, until they grow up, although the fraud is occurring now.
Putnam is visionary in other ways, understanding the critical need to address future water resources before the state runs out of potable options in some areas.
Florida's agricultural commissioner has other roles, as well, including protecting the state's forests. When the federal government created obstacles in programs that had provided state and rural firefighters with equipment the military no longer needed, Putnam pushed back. Late this summer, the federal government relented.
Then there's the important second part of his title as commissioner overseeing consumer services. Putnam led a push to hold Florida charitable organizations accountable by rewriting the law to make those that raise millions of dollars file documentation to reveal where that money is being spent.
The main criticism he's received in four years centers around his going along with other leading Republicans on a Texas hunting trip sponsored by the sugar industry, with its big stake in agriculture and water.
Putnam started his political career in his young 20s, serving two terms in the Florida House. He then became a Central Florida congressman for five terms before deciding state office offered a better chance to improve people's lives, which he's unquestionably done.
There’s no better way to thank Putnam for that decision to help Florida than by giving him your vote.