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Sunburn — The Morning Read Of What’s Hot In Florida Politics — 11.30.21

A celebration of farm-fresh Florida and the state’s agriculture.

By Peter Schorsch    

An annual event highlighting Florida’s farming industry will return tonight, punctuated by a speech from Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who announced the relaunch of a pandemic-era platform linking producers in the state to buyers and consumers.

The free Taste of Florida reception — co-hosted by the Farm Bureau and Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services — is open to the public and will run from 5-7 p.m. at the Capitol Courtyard in Tallahassee.

While the event will highlight Florida-grown products and the importance of the state’s agriculture industry, it will also feature a demonstration of the revamped online portal, Florida Farm to You. Fried’s agency created the portal in spring 2020 to help Florida producers circumvent market disruptions that shuttered traditionally dependable buyers like restaurants and hampered farmers’ ability to move perishable products.

Faith Based Events

The portal was — and continues to be — available on the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s Keep Florida Growing webpage, a repository of agricultural information for the coronavirus era. The Florida Farm You commodities list, the webpage’s most significant piece, allows farmers to list produce they have on hand and their contact information so potential buyers and consumers can contact them directly.

The page also includes information on current Florida agriculture initiatives, safety guidance for food workers, details on the state’s agriculture purchasing programs, work visa information, guidance on food assistance programs, and a U-pick farm locator, among other things.

Shortly after the launch of Farm to You last year, Fried said farmers went from preparing about 40 boxes of produce weekly for direct sales to 400.

“Given the positive reception of this initiative, (the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services) will be keeping the portal active and has worked to improve its functionality to make it more user-friendly,” a press note from Fried’s agency said. “At the reception, local products from participating farms from across the state will be available as well as a digital demonstration where attendees can explore the website.”

Taste of Florida guests will be able to sample products from the following vendors: Ag in the Classroom, Broward County Farm Bureau, Farm Bureau for Women’s Committee, Farm Credit, Fawn Weather Station, Florida Agriculture Museum, Florida Citrus Mutual, Florida Federation of Fairs, Florida Peanut Federation, Florida Poultry Federation, Florida State Beekeepers Association, Kumquat Growers, Orchard Pond, Serenoa Shellfish Company, Southern Craft Creamery, St. Augustine Distillery, St. Pete Distillery, TCC Oyster Program, Timbercreek Distillery, Watermelon Growers, Young Farmers and Ranchers, and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Florida Aquaculture Association.

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Fried issues ‘best practices’ for Giving Tuesday — Fried released a lengthy list of recommendations aimed at helping Floridians donate smart on Giving Tuesday. Fried, whose department regulates charities in the state, urged donors to be wary of high-pressure tactics, avoid clicking links in unsolicited emails, and to research what portion of a donation is used for overhead costs such as fundraising campaigns — the Wise Giving Alliance recommends that at least 65% of charitable contributions serve a nonprofit’s mission. “Helping individuals make informed charitable donations that best reach those in need is one of our top priorities,” she said. Fried encouraged donors to research the background and financials of charities via the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services online “Check-A-Charity” tool.

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Jimmy Patronis offers tips to avoid Giving Tuesday scams — CFO Patronis urged Floridians to be on the lookout for phony charities during the giving season — especially on Giving Tuesday. “The holidays bring out the best in people, but they can also bring out the worst in some,” he said, adding, “Beware of unsolicited offers from charities through email and social media and be suspicious of any charity asking for cash-only payment. Always research and verify the charity you’re giving to is reputable and never feel pressured into donating. By staying alert this holiday season, you can ensure your donation is going to a good cause and not lining the pockets of a scam artist.” Patronis warned that some bogus charities will use a name similar to a legitimate one. He also recommended donating via credit card for added security.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@NoahPransky: 20 yrs after Prez (George W.Bush went “nucular” … Prez (JoeBiden gives comedians the gift of “Omnicron.”

@JamesHamblin: The honest answer to “what should we do about variant X” is going to be the same again and again … build and maintain a global system of viral genomic surveillance. Synchronize that with vaccine development, distribution, and communication. That’s it.

@Annette_TaddeoGrowing up on a farm in Colombia taught me a lot, but it did not prepare me for the night a Marxist terrorist group kidnapped my father and took over our farm. Seeing my parents persevere through the seemingly impossible taught me to always #believe and never give up.

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