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Florida Agriculture Commissioner Simpson calls food supply a ‘national security issue’

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Florida Agriculture Commissioner Simpson calls food supply a ‘national security issue’

Oct 31, 2023 | 5:47 pm ET
By Christian Casale
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Florida Agriculture Commissioner Simpson calls food supply a ‘national security issue’
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Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson delivers remarks on Hurricane Idalia Recovery alongside Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis | Casey DeSantis Facebook

Barren grocery shelves. Chaos on the streets.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson on Monday launched into discourse about food supplies, national security and the potential of “people starving in this country.”

His remarks came during a press conference in Citrus County on the Gulf Coast on funding for Hurricane Idalia recovery. First Lady Casey DeSantis was there to announce the money – including a $5 million loan to the city of Crystal River in east Central Florida and $700,000 to the Cedar Key Aquaculture Association to assist small business owners with storm recovery.

Simpson, a former Florida Senate president and now an elected statewide official, discussed the recovery of Florida’s shellfish and aquaculture industries and the necessity for their infrastructure.

Simpson then moved on into a discussion of the nation’s food supply, saying:

“So there’s nothing more important in this country than our food supply and recovering from a hurricane if you’re in the state of Florida. And I always put it in a national security term because, think about this for a second – you know, in national security, we think of oil. We’re fighting wars in the Middle East the last 50 years over oil and we have strategic supplies all over this country because we know it is a national security issue.

“Think of your food supply – just one week, no groceries in the grocery store. Right? You have chaos in this country in less than a month; you’d have people starving in this country. And when you think about the regulatory structure on a state level and local level, that’s the lens we need to work through working with your Legislature this year and the governor’s team. We did a lot of really good things this year. I’m not going to mention it here today. But what I ultimately appreciate is the teamwork that we’re getting from the governor’s team.”

In an Oct. 20 memorandum connected to the upcoming special session in the Legislature, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo mentioned the need to address Hurricane Idalia’s impact to agriculture infrastructure.

“This includes tax relief for families and businesses, key assistance for agriculture and aquaculture producers, and aid for local governments,” Passidomo said.