Is Nikki Fried Failing Florida?
Bottom Line: Think about Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. When you think of her actions what’s most memorable to you? Is it policy or is it outspoken opposition to Governor DeSantis? It’s notable that her first action as Agriculture Commissioner, to put her face on the gas pump inspection stickers, was unconstitutional and it’s safe to say her tenure, which has included spreading unfounded rumors and most recently outright lies about pay-for-play vaccines, has been most notable for her personal actions as Agriculture Commissioner as opposed to her policy actions within the department. Still, her performance really hasn’t been publicly parsed until now.
Notably in a state legislative session featuring a record budget Florida’s Agriculture Department saw an $11 million reduction in funds. Clearly the legislature’s actions question Fried’s handling of affairs. This wasn’t the case over the first two budgets under her watch – however her use of department resources to run a regular anti-DeSantis campaign clearly isn’t lost on the legislature. Nor Congressman Brian Mast. The latest to raise concerns over her performance. In a letter sent to Commissioner Fried, Mast had this to say:
Commissioner Fried needs to stop using her taxpayer-funded office to shield polluters from scrutiny and immediately send all records gathered in compliance with the Clean Waterways Act to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. This data could provide critical insight to scientists in Florida in order to take steps to improve our state’s water quality. Unfortunately, Commissioner Fried has proven to be an impediment to this goal. Thankfully, the law is clear, so even if cleaning up Florida’s waterways is not a top priority for her, the law says she must release this data ASAP.
So, what’s happening here? As explained by Mast, The Clean Waterways Act, which went into effect on July 1, 2020, requires FDACS to gather data on the total amount of nitrogen and phosphorus used on properties participating in the Best Management Practices (BMP) program. Additionally, FDACS must complete site visits to confirm BMP participants are implementing best management practices, and the law mandates that Fried submit these records to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) each quarter.
Fried has now failed to provide three consecutive reports required under the Clean Waterways Act, coinciding with the worst toxic algal concentration recorded in Lake Okeechobee’s history. She’s failed to comply with the Clean Waterways Act. What else is the person tasked with Florida’s 2nd largest department failing? Perhaps a bit more time spent doing the job she was elected to do and a little less time using the job she was elected to do to attempt to promote herself and teardown the governor?
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