Putnam Stays Silent as Trump’s Trade War Hurts Florida Agriculture
Putnam Sells Out to Trump
What does Adam Putnam care more about: Donald Trump or Florida strawberries?
Earlier this week, as part of an escalating trade war sparked by Donald Trump, the Chinese government announced new tariffs on a range of products — including fruit from Florida like strawberries and grapefruit. Those Trump tariffs are set to damage Florida’s already struggling citrus and fruit industry — and have the support of Agriculture Commissioner and Trump sycophant Adam Putnam. In a speech last month, Putnam expressed approval for Trump’s trade policies and even went as far as to say that they could help Florida.
“Adam Putnam is selling out Florida’s agriculture industry to Donald Trump,” said FDP spokesperson Kevin Donohoe. “Putnam will do or say anything to advance his political career and has spent decades jumping from political office to political office. Now, instead of doing his real job as Agriculture Commissioner, he’s backing Donald Trump’s trade war to win the GOP primary.”
It’s no surprise that Putnam has chosen Donald Trump over what’s best for Florida. With Politico reporting that Donald Trump is planning to campaign for Ron DeSantis, the GOP primary has become an even more intense competition to be the Trumpiest. Putnam also has a long record of put politics above his duties as Agriculture Commissioner. Instead of being a responsible steward of Florida’s agriculture industry, Adam Putnam has spent the last eight years using the Agriculture Commissioner’s office as a launchpad for his gubernatorial campaign:
Putnam Has Consistently Put Politics Above His Job as Agriculture Commissioner
Putnam “Seldom if Ever Mentions” Citrus Crisis on the Campaign Trail. According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Putnam’s own messaging seems to reflect that view. On social media and on the campaign trail, Putnam the candidate seldom if ever mentions the citrus industry. When he spoke to Florida business leaders this week at a Chamber of Commerce event, he made a brief reference to the weather’s impact on citrus. He talked more about teaching job skills to middle-school students, rebuilding the middle class and ‘preparing for the next generation of technology.’” [Tampa Bay Times, 1/12/18]
“Proud NRA Sellout” Adam Putnam Talks Far More About Guns Than Citrus or Agriculture. According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Putnam talks far more about guns than citrus or agriculture in general, for that matter. On Twitter, Putnam cited his ‘New Year’s Resolution #1: Keep standing up for our Second Amendment rights.’ Putnam lit up social media last summer by labeling himself a ‘proud NRA sellout’ and promoting an online petition to ‘stop CNN,’ moves that brought criticism from fellow Republicans that he was pandering to gun rights advocates and Trump supporters.” [Tampa Bay Times, 1/12/18]
Lakeland Ledger, 2005: “The Conventional Wisdom in Polk County Has Always Been That It’s Favorite Son, US Rep. Adam Putnam of Bartow, Would Return the First Chance He Gets to Run for a State Cabinet Post and Then for Governor.” According to the Lakeland Ledger, “The conventional wisdom in Polk County has always been that it’s favorite son, U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam of Bartow, would return the first chance he gets to run for a state Cabinet post and then for governor. Almost everyone agrees that one day, the congressman will return to fulfill his promise to his late grandfather to run for governor, but it may be quite awhile before that happens.” [Lakeland Ledger, 11/7/05]
St. Petersburg Times, May 2009: “Virtually Everyone In Florida Politics Sees Putnam’s Bid For Agriculture Commissioner As A Placeholder Until He Can Run For Governor.” According to the St. Petersburg Times, “Virtually everyone in Florida politics sees Putnam’s bid for agriculture commissioner as a placeholder until he can run for governor, a chance to build his resume and name recognition in a job that isn’t overtly political.” [St Petersburg Times, 5/24/09]
In the Past, Putnam Has Used His Post to Hurt Floridians
Putnam Refuses to Pay a $17 Million Settlement With Lee County Homeowners. According to the News-Press, “Pay without further delay. That’s the order Lee Circuit Judge Keith Kyle has issued to the state agriculture department and its chief executive in a class-action lawsuit that followed the department’s destruction of nearly 34,000 residential trees under the failed citrus canker eradication program. However, the chance of homeowners getting any payments in 2018 appears no better than before. And, the tab is rising. The total amount due in Lee County alone now exceeds $16.9 million, with daily interest of $2,199 increasing the obligation.” [News-Press, 3/27/18]
In October 2017, Putnam’s Department Paid $437,000 in Legal Fees After Losing a Battle With a Family Farm Over the Definition of Skim Milk. According to the Associated Press, “Florida is paying nearly $437,000 to cover the fees of attorneys who sued Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. A federal appeals court earlier this year sided with an all-natural dairy that fought the state’s demand to label its skim milk ‘imitation’ because vitamins aren’t added to it. Court records show a federal judge in September ordered Putnam’s office to pay the attorneys who represented Ocheesee Creamery. State officials reported earlier this month that the money had been paid. The notice states Putnam’s agency ‘concurs that complying with this order is in the best interest of the state.’” [Associated Press, 10/23/17]
Ocheesee Creamery Could Not Sell Skim Milk for Five Years. According to the News Herald, “After a five-year legal battle with the state, a Calhoun County dairy farm is back to selling its skim milk — now with a disclaimer the proprietors said they offered to adopt at the outset of the litigation. The Ocheesee Creamery, 28367 State 69, had been in a legal deadlock with the Florida Department of Agriculture for half a decade over its all-natural skim milk. Agriculture officials argued that because the creamery did not add vitamins to the skim milk, it could not be sold as such. But rather than label its product ‘imitation milk,’ Ocheesee fought the lengthy legal battle against the state.” [News Herald, 7/23/17]
Ocheesee Creamery Proprietor: Without the Ability to Sell Skim Milk, the Business Was Left “Hopping on One Leg.” According to the News Herald, “Inside a shop at the front of the farm, he said the skim milk Ocheesee had been selling before the lawsuit made up a third of the creamery’s business. Without the ability to sell the skim milk along with its whole and chocolate milk, the business was left ‘hopping on one leg,’ Wesselhoeft said. ‘I wouldn’t call it a hardship,’ he said. ‘We didn’t go under, but it was a fight there for a while.’” [News Herald, 7/23/17]