Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is at it again, pointing the finger at Governor Ron DeSantis for how he’s managed the coronavirus crisis. This time, she played the victim card.
On Monday, DeSantis held a conference call with the executive committee on the Re-Open Florida Task Force to set in motion a plan to reopen the state and restart Florida’s stalled economy. The call included statewide elected Republicans, several key business leaders, and members of the governor’s cabinet. The lone statewide Democrat, however, was left off the call, prompting the full-time martyr to lash out at DeSantis for the omission.
“This is sadly more of the same politics over state from the Governor. I was not asked to serve alongside my fellow Cabinet members on the task force, which has no voice on its membership representing Florida’s $137 billion agriculture industry,” Fried said in a statement issued by her office.
“That is deeply concerning given the impacts of COVID-19 on Florida’s second largest industry, and given the progress my team had made working with federal, state, local, and retail partners to reduce negative impacts on Florida agriculture. It’s equally concerning that the Governor failed to mention agriculture on the initial call — I hope he will join my commitment to supporting our farmers and feeding our families,” she continued.
It’s deeply concerning that agriculture isn’t represented on the Governor’s task force.
It’s Florida’s second-largest industry. It’s how we feed our families.
— Nikki Fried (@nikkifried) April 20, 2020
But of course, agriculture is represented on the task force, in the form of State Senator Wilton Simpson, himself an actual farmer, unlike former marijuana industry lobbyist Fried.
Simpson not only served as Pasco County Farm Bureau president, he owns and operates one of the largest egg farms in Florida. If you’re reading this, chances are good that you’ve eaten eggs from his farm.
Simpson was adopted at age 6 and grew up with the family businesses, an egg farm in Trilby and an environmental cleanup company with operations throughout the Southeast.
The family sold the egg farm in 1996. But after the new owners went under and left the farm’s 200,000 chickens to starve to death in 2003, Simpson bought it back.
He turned it into a multimillion-dollar operation, producing tens of millions of eggs with factory-like precision. The eggs, through food distributor Cal-Maine Foods, end up in grocery stores throughout the state, including Publix. (Source: Miami Herald)
As a State Senator and soon to be majority leader (and likely Senate President), it makes Simpson the highest-ranking farmer in the state government and gives real farmers a voice on the task force.
Fried’s diatribe is just the latest installment in near-daily drama in which Fried uses every news cycle of the pandemic to place the spotlight on herself in an attempt to raise her profile. She has shown little interest in working with DeSantis, at a time when the two should be working together to resolve the most devastating economic crisis the state has ever faced.
Brian Burgess contributed to this story.