The Fresh From Florida marketing program is set to take a major hit if current state legislature budget appropriations proposals hold. The program, with its familiar Sunshine State logo, promotes locally grown crops, livestock, and seafood in Florida, the U.S., and abroad. Florida growers who join the program (for a nominal fee) get access to a number of marketing tools aimed at helping them sell their goods.
But, that might be in jeopardy after Florida House’s Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee approved a budget of only $2.06 million for the Fresh From Florida program. The previous year’s budget for the program was nearly $13 million. The Senate’s Environmental & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee approved a budget of $5.8 million for the program.
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Adam Putnam released a strongly worded statement about the House’s proposal to cut Fresh From Florida. The agency operates the program.
“This is a political assault on a good program that will have real consequences on real people,” Putnam stated. “Gutting the Fresh From Florida program will hurt Florida’s small farms the most — their ability to raise awareness for the high quality of their locally grown products and compete against lesser quality products from foreign countries.”
The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association activated its Grassroots Action Center to encourage Florida voters contact lawmakers to voice support for the program and other agriculture spending priorities, including UF/IFAS and the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program.
The Florida Blueberry Growers Association also sent out a call to action to its members about going to bat for the program.
The budget vote will take place April, 5.