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Florida's agriculture commissioner says food is a national security issue

 Florida Agriculture Secretary Wilton Simpson speaks at a NEBA lunch
Margie Menzel
Florida Agriculture Secretary Wilton Simpson speaks at a NEBA lunch

Wilton Simpson told a Tallahassee business group, "Imagine one week of no food in the grocery stores ... You’d have total chaos in this country."

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson says he thinks of food as a national security issue. He spoke to a group of Tallahassee business leaders Tuesday.

A lifelong farmer, Simpson says defining agriculture in national security terms was his top priority upon taking the helm at the state department of agriculture.

“We can all think about oil as a national security issue, right? We have strategic supplies all over the country just in case there’s a major war in the Middle East or there’s a major disruption somewhere in the world of those oil supplies," he said. "Imagine one week of no food in the grocery stores. Seven days. You’d have total chaos in this country. Imagine 30. Now you’d have people starving to death. So, when I think about agriculture, that’s the lens I think about it through.” 

Simpson also told the audience at a lunch event that agriculture is vital to the economy.

“During the pandemic, we were the number-one driver of the economy, and during the recession, we’re the number-one driver of the economy," he said. "And so, over $180 billion of economic output and a major part of the engine that drives our economy. I don’t like explaining it in those terms because you need a farmer three times a day. One of them is right now, right?” 

Simpson says he’s also focused on securing the future of state agriculture interests and prioritizing Florida-grown food. Simpson spoke before The Network of Entrepreneurs & Business Advocates, or NEBA. The group is mostly comprised of business owners and their employees.

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Margie Menzel