Locally Grown School Lunches

Creating nutritious school lunches is a crucial responsibility of the Agriculture Commissioner’s office. Statewide school menus are targeted to include more fruits and vegetables, encouraging the use of locally-grown produce. The mission of the Food, Nutrition & Wellness division is to inspire healthy eating by educating Florida’s next generation of consumers. The 67 school districts throughout the state are coordinated together to coincide with Florida’s harvest season in order to make these foods more affordable.

We can improve the wellbeing of all Florida residents through initiatives that grant easier access to our state’s agricultural commodities. We have to raise the bar on nutrition standards and the total nutrition impact on the child. Our state has successfully moved school nutrition programs out of the Department of Education and into the Department of Agriculture, providing an opportunity to connect farms of all sizes with their local school districts. Shaping eating habits early on will contribute to lower long term healthcare costs and overall healthier lives for our future generations. I know that I want a healthier standard of living for my grandkids, and that begins with what foods they’re exposed to at school.

By creating safe, healthy meals, we can ensure that our children are getting the best quality school lunches that our state has to offer. The sunshine state is known for our fields, rich in fresh produce- why not use it?

Renegotiate NAFTA Now

Florida farmers face enough problems as it is. NAFTA should not being one of them. The North American Free Trade Agreement has hurt our local family farms. I will work with President Trump's administration to fix the negative consequences of this unfair trade policy. NAFTA must be renegotiated. 

Our state's agriculture has seen a sharp decline in the past decade. And this is in no small part due to NAFTA and other foreign imports of produce and goods. Florida farmers and workers have to compete with farmers in Peru who receive $100 a month in wages! It's impossible to demand that our farms compete with that. Foreign imports flood our markets with cheaper goods, making it impossible for Florida farms to make a profit. 

It's not just south of the border that we have to be concerned about. Canada imposes tariffs on U.S. goods while we freely accept their cheaper lumber. Florida has a large lumber industry. And it too ought to be protected from unfair competition.

This is a direct consequence of failed government policy at the federal level. However, as Agriculture Commissioner and a Trump supporter, I promise to work with the administration to fix this problem. NAFTA needs to go. I will make sure of it. 

Protecting Both Florida Farmers and the Environment

I am a staunch believer in effectiveness and working smarter. Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMP) are a series of cost-effective actions that agricultural producers can take to minimize waste and maximize conservation. The goal of agricultural BMPs is to keep our water safe by preventing pollutants from entering our water resources.

BMPs strike the perfect balance of maintaining high quality water while stimulating agricultural production. These practices do not operate on a “one-size-fits-all” basis; they are specifically designed for different agricultural practices. Nutrient management, irrigation management, and water resource protection are just a few of the areas that BMPs target.

Government too often tries to deliver a “cookie cutter” approach to policy.  What works in Martin County might not work up in Holmes County and vice versa.  Working with our local leaders we can implement the best practice for the individual area.

Both farmers and our environment benefit from the implementation of BMPs. We can keep Florida beautiful and help our local producers by investing in protective measures for our water resources.

Fresh From Florida - Marketing Campaign

The Fresh from Florida program helps Florida producers market their own products and assists with moving products from farm to consumer. Buying products from our own local farmers is an important part of our culture here in Florida. We operate 12 Farmers Markets across the state, encouraging consumers to find value in locally-grown products as well as helping stimulate business for our farmers.

This marketing campaign creates healthy, quick, and easy recipes featuring our state’s agricultural products that further inspire healthy eating for Floridians. None of this executed blindly- agricultural data and statistics are compiled to assist farmers in making marketing and production decisions.

Supporting our local producers is the key to economic stimulation across the state. The stronger our marketing campaign is, the more likely it is that we keep Florida residents buying Florida products. It’s important that Floridians know how vital the role of agriculture in our state truly is.

A Laffer Curve for Regulation

America’s farmers and ranchers are the lifeblood of the state of Florida. I will work tirelessly to reduce the role of government in the agriculture industry in order to help farmers grow their businesses. Smaller government will help grow our economy, and less money being spent on the government means more money in the marketplace.

For years I have been hard at work helping businesses thrive in the competitive environment in Florida. There are 2.3 million small businesses in the state of Florida and all of them have the potential to succeed under less regulation and lower taxes. I stand with the President; we need agencies that will eliminate two regulations for every new one implemented. By cutting out burdensome government regulation, businesses in Florida will be free to expand and create new jobs.

We must remain vigilant of heavy regulations that have crippled small business. Policies intended to promote economic growth must be low in both taxes and governmental roadblocks. Burdensome regulation takes away time and resources from small businesses, and I want to put a stop to this.

Supporting Our Country's Veterans

While enjoying Independence Day, I couldn’t help but reflect on the sacrifices our veterans made to defend our country in times of need. They left their families and loved ones to serve. We owe our livelihood and freedom to them. I am truly thankful to all those that served.

I believe that once our soldiers return home it is not only the responsibility of the Federal government to take care of them. Even our state government should be there to support our veterans. I want to do everything in my power to help veterans, especially those returning from active combat zones. 

I salute Adam Putnam’s “Operation Outdoor Freedom” program. It allows wounded veterans free access to state parks. As Agriculture Commissioner, I want to expand the program to include all returning veterans from active combat zones. Not all wounds are physical and the some of the best support is the camaraderie of veterans together. 

I’ve seen firsthand as a veteran what such support can do to help other veterans. We have an obligation as a country and as a public servant to support our troops. Let’s not wait for the Federal government. Here in Florida we can create our own programs, like Operation Outdoor Freedom, and take care of those who protect us.

Protecting The Second Amendment

The Bill of Rights clearly outlines the individual's right to carry a firearm. The Second Amendment is not optional, it is a staple of our freedom. Our country was founded upon the fundamental rights of the people, including the right of every American to protect themselves and their families.

Under constant assault from liberal allied groups, our 2nd Amendment Rights must be protected. Too many in this state are willing to cast aside some of the most basic rights Floridians have in order to create the perception of safety. We have seen violent crime decreased while the number of legal licensed concealed weapon holders increase over the past few decades.  This is important to note because the safety and security of our community is supplemented when lawful citizens 2nd Amendment rights are preserved.

As a former Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army, I have seen firsthand the sacrifices our military personnel and their families have made for our great country. The kind of challenges they have overcome defines the honor they gained from their military service. Those who are honorably discharged from the military have exceeded the required standards of duty. The oath that they had made to protect this nation doesn’t stop when they take off their uniform. It covers a lifetime. That is why I believe that those veterans who have served our country honorably should not be restricted in obtaining a concealed weapons license. The DD-214 should be the concealed weapons permit for these individuals. Let’s cut the six pages of bureaucratic red tape.

Challenges for Florida’s Citrus Industry

Despite our citrus being the best in the nation, the industry itself is on the decline. The 2015-2016 harvest dropped 16% from the previous season, and its predicted that number will continue to drop by another 14% this year. In total, the citrus industry is down 70% from 20 years ago, a devastating reality facing our state’s signature crop.

I am committed to bringing back Florida’s citrus because it’s an important part of our state’s history and who we are as Floridians. In fact, the first orange trees in the Americas were planted in St. Augustine. Roughly 76,000 Floridians are employed by the citrus industry, and we want to keep it that way by protecting our orange groves.

Our citrus industry used to be the rival of the world, but since 2005 citrus greening disease has plagued our state’s citrus crops. Scientists at the University of Florida have been conducting research to deal with this mounting problem.

We must act now to deal with citrus greening before it’s too late. I want my children and grandchildren to be able to grow up with the same Florida oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and lemons that I grew up with.

Job Growth & Cutting Regulation

The natural beauty of Florida draws tourists from around the world; and with that comes the opportunity for job creation. By allowing businesses the freedom to expand, the Florida job market will skyrocket and provide new opportunities for Floridians. We can continue adding to the private sector in the Sunshine State by making things easier for our local small business owners.

As a businessman myself, I understand the difficulties faced by Florida residents seeking to bring their ideas to fruition. The potential for opportunity often does not align with government flexibility, creating an environment that hinders our ability to create and innovate. As a state with so many rich resources, we need to take advantage of our potential and provide every possible opportunity for those inspired to start new businesses here.

By cutting unnecessary regulation and allowing for businesses to expand freely, we will be providing countless job opportunities for Floridians, making our state the best place to live and do business in the world.

Not A Politician

As a businessman, Paul understands the importance of reducing burdensome regulations to promote growth in vital industries such as agriculture. Paul’s readiness to roll up his sleeves and work for Florida will continue to make the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services work for you. Paul is not a politician - his main concern is leaving a better Florida his children and grandchildren. After his service in the U.S. Army, Paul planted his roots in Florida and now those roots extend to his grandchildren.

Paul will stand up for Florida farmers against bureaucrats in Tallahassee. Regulations in our state are out of control and Florida farmers are feeling the squeeze of these regulations the most. We must work to repeal the unnecessary regulations and limit the reach of Tallahassee politicians. Many of these multigenerational businesses are closing or laying off employees, these are the direct effects of over regulation. It is personal for these businesses and felt in small towns across Florida. I will fight regulations that affect Florida Farmers as your next Agriculture Commissioner.

Paul is not a career politician, he is a businessman right here in the Sunshine State. He is not taking money from industries he would regulate as the next Agriculture Commissioner. He is raising small dollar donations and using his personal funds to run a statewide campaign. The Tallahassee Special interests are not happy about this, they spend millions against Paul in negative advertising over the next year. We need you to fight back and show the lobbyists and career politicians who is in charge of Florida. Our grassroots campaign will travel around the state to your town, VFW or American Legion Post, community festival, Republican Club, local coffee shop, and many more.