your-news image
Vowing to make sure agriculture maintains its place as one of Florida's driving economic engines, former U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam was sworn in Jan. 4 as the 11th commissioner of the state’s Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services in ceremonies at the capitol in Tallahassee.

Commissioner Putnam took the oath of office along with other victors from November’s elections, a landslide for Florida Republicans. Also sworn in were Gov. Rick Scott, Lieutenant Gov. Jennifer Carroll, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

Commissioner Putnam also renewed his vow to keep agriculture in the foreground as Florida moves toward the future. He has often compared Florida’s economy to a three-legged stool comprised of tourism, construction and agriculture. With two of those legs faltering, there is opportunity for agriculture to stake a claim it held decades ago as Florida’s leading industry.

"Today begins a new chapter in our state and I am excited to hit the ground running as commissioner of agriculture," Commissioner Putnam said in a Jan. 4 statement. "Agriculture remains a vital part of our state's economy and will remain an important part of its future, and I look forward to using technology and innovation to put Florida at the forefront of every opportunity."

Earlier this year on the campaign trail, then-Rep. Putnam said many Americans in general and Floridians in particular are "trapped in this iconic Normal Rockwell image that’s quaint and warm and cute and charming. Agriculture is a vital, vibrant part of Florida’s future. We can’t take for granted that Florida will be led by people with a broader vision for the state. We have to educate our 18 million neighbors, whether they’ve been here for six generations or six weeks, about the pure, raw economic impact of agriculture on the state of Florida, and not let anyone plead ignorance on that. There is no difference between what is good for the farmer and what is good for the consumer."

Commissioner Putnam has already brought change to the department; as he was sworn in, the department’s web site was rebranded as www.freshfromflorida.com and employee e-mails were changed to reflect the new web domain as well.

"One of the Department's goals to is to promote and market fresh Florida products," Commissioner Putnam said. "Using 'Fresh From Florida' not only helps us accomplish this mission, but will also help the average web surfer with name recognition and navigability."

Only 36, Commissioner Putnam already has more 15 years of political experience under his belt, serving first as a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 1996 to 2000 and then as the youngest member of the U.S. Congress when he was elected to the House in 2000. His family farming history combined with his experience and youthful exuberance motivated Florida voters and united the state agriculture community, translating into a landslide victory of almost 1 million votes.