by Gary Cooper
As Florida lawmakers return home from a frustrating legislative session for Florida’s agriculture industry, the state’s farmers and ranchers wonder where they stand in a political environment that is much different than years past.
Florida’s population continues to grow with about 1,000 new residents daily, with no end in sight. The negative environmental impacts from this historic pace of urban expansion, on top of water and development problems that previous years of unbridled urban growth have already caused, is becoming obvious to more Floridians each day.
The state’s political leaders simply have not kept up with problems that the many years of constant urban growth have brought to the state.
Meanwhile, as the following news items from other media around Florida are starting to report more often, it appears some politicians are bent upon making agriculture their latest scapegoat of choice. Some lawmakers known to be unfairly critical to agriculture are now resorting to secret meetings so their comments can be hidden from the public.
Even the governor of the Sunshine State has announced his intention to be a part of today’s secret meeting being hosted by Congressman Francis Rooney.
It’s a strange time in Florida politics. At Florida’s grassroots levels, more questions are being asked than answered. More media are also starting to report how government in the “sunshine” is becoming more shaded, as the news story links below from today’s media headlines indicate.
The present political environment in Florida seems to be taking on a new non-transparent character at many levels. And that is something many long-term Florida residents just aren’t accustomed to.
It’s an important time for Florida agriculture. It’s no time to be sleeping at the wheel.
Gary Cooper is the founder and president of AgNet Media, Inc., based in Gainesville, Florida.