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Intersection: GOP Agriculture Commissioner Candidates Explain Why They're Running

Photo: Erik Hersman, Flickr.
Photo: Erik Hersman, Flickr.

Water quality, citrus greening and the impact of tariffs are just some of the issues on the minds of the candidates running to be Florida’s next commissioner of agriculture and consumer services.

Two of the Republican candidates running to be their party's nominee for state agriculture commissioner, Matt Caldwell and Denise Grimsley, spoke to WLRN's Tom Hudson and the editorial page editors of the Palm Beach Post, the South Florida Sun Sentinel and the Miami Herald about why they're running. 

The other two Republicans in the race, Baxter Troutman and Mike McAllister were invited but could not accommodate the scheduled interview time.

Grimsley told the panel that a wide variety of sources have contributed to the algae.

"The septic tanks [are] a big producer of that," said Grimsley.

"But back a few years ago, we still had dairies that were contaminating the Kissimmee River that was going into Okeechobee, we've cleaned that up with best management practices," she said.

"The projects in Everglades restoration, we've got to get those accelerated and get them done. We need to get the dike finished and by doing that we are able to leave a little bit more water in the lake but we have to be careful about that too because we don't want to kill our plant life," she said.

Caldwell said tariffs are "a huge issue for Florida".

Even with NAFTA, Caldwell said  "there are multiple commodities both in Canada and Mexico that are protected in both directions. Its still not a true free trade agreement. What I can say with absolute certainty is, if we don't change it we will not have a commodity level scale production of fresh fruits and vegetables in Florida."

This interview was produced by WLRN Public Media and Florida Public Radio.

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