A Message from the Commissioner
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services plays a significant role in protecting Florida's 18 million consumers from unfair and deceptive business practices. In my new role as Commissioner, I am actively identifying opportunities where technology can be utilized to modernize our processes and procedures. Doing so will help to ensure that Floridians are adequately protected against current and continually evolving threats.
Consumers deserve the opportunity to navigate the global marketplace without the constant fear of falling victim to fraud. Business owners that abide by the statutory regulations which govern them should not have to compete with those who choose to victimize consumers in hopes that their actions will go undetected or unreported. Scam-artists are becoming increasingly technologically savvy, and consumers are often unaware of how to appropriately file a complaint. Effective communication may be the best way to counter the sophisticated systems that are used to defraud Florida's consumers today. As Commissioner, it is my mission to enhance the communications tools currently in place so that consumers are not only aware of existing scams, but also where and how they may get assistance and report violators. This will aid the Department in aggressively enforcing regulations, thus preventing these scams from continuing.
Not only are we working to identify and thwart inappropriate business practices, we are also responding to a variety of issues that threaten the health and safety of consumers, including those found within our food supply. As food production becomes increasingly global, it is imperative that we ensure the safety and security of our food supply at all stages of production. The early identification of a threat, as well as the timely and accurate detection of its origin, are tremendously important. As Florida has experienced in the past, misidentifying the source of a food borne illness can have potentially dramatic repercussions on both consumers and businesses alike. I am also focused on reducing the rate of childhood obesity and the number of long-term complications associated with this condition by connecting growers to schools, food banks and public assistance programs within our great state. Expanding access to locally grown, fresh fruits and vegetables at food banks, schools and core urban areas will ensure the nutrition and healthy eating habits of Floridians for generations to come, as well as raise demand and maximize the consumption of agriculture products that are "Fresh from Florida."
With improved technology and an enhanced focus on communication, the Department will be able to offer Florida's consumers and businesses a more effective and efficient level of service. While the continued enforcement of regulations will be imperative for consumer protection to be successful, so too will be educating consumers on how to identify potentially deceptive business practices and appropriately report them. By enhancing current systems, especially those regarding the protection of our nation's food supply, we will have the power to anticipate and better respond to potential threats. Creating an agile, modernized Department capable of meeting both the current and future needs of consumers will be our road map to ensuring the utmost protection for all of Florida's residents and visitors.