Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has recently backtracked on proposed cuts to the county’s agricultural sector. The cuts, an attempt to balance Miami-Dade County’s budget and close a $400 million budget gap, relied very heavily on cuts to agricultural. For example, the mayor proposed eliminating the agricultural manger’s office and suggested removing all funding for Miami-Dade University’s agricultural research programs.
The agricultural sector’s response to these proposed budget cuts were overwhelmingly negative. Dade County Farm Bureau Director Theresa Smith described the proposed cuts as “hopeless.” She described the mayor’s capitulation as “a tremendous blessing.” Other members of the County Commission similarly blasted the proposed cuts. County Commissioner Lynda Bell called the proposed cuts “dangerous”.
Overall, the agricultural sector in Miami-Dade generates about $2.7 billion in revenue. Opponents of the budget cuts claimed that severe budget cuts would stifle agricultural production, lowering that $2.7 billion of economic activity, and hurt the overall county economy. They also claimed that supporters of the budget didn’t appreciate the importance of the agricultural sector, with one councilman claiming that for many people, agriculture was “out of sight, out of mind.”
The budget battle in Mimi-Dade has mirrored similar debates nationally. As Congress looks to cut agricultural funding over the next several years, farm supporters have argued that agricultural spending, particularly agricultural research, is a major engine of the American economy and that massive farm cuts risk undoing the U.S.’s fragile economic gains.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer