The Phoenix Flyer

Ag Commissioner Wilton Simpson discusses the price of eggs. He should know

By: - January 17, 2023 4:53 pm

Eggs. Credits: Michael Moline.

Wilton Simpson, Florida’s new commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, warned Tuesday that people need to treat the food supply as a national security issue.

The Republican who replaced Democrat Nikki Fried in the job following the November elections raised the issue following his first formal meeting of the Florida Cabinet — which, with Gov. Ron DeSantis, helps set policy for an array of state agencies.

During a post-meeting gaggle with news reporters, one asked about the high price of eggs, which were going for about $6 per one dozen large in Publix stores in Tallahassee as of Tuesday — roughly twice last year’s price.

“The reality is, we need to protect our egg industry,” said Simpson, owner of an egg farm valued at nearly $11 million (among total assets worth $22.5 million, including an environmental clean-up company).

Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Wilton Simpson addresses reporters on Jan. 17, 2023. Source: Screenshot/Florida Channel

“The avian flu has taken out about 50 million birds this year, so it’s simple supply and demand. And we need be very prudent. If you have back-yard chickens, if you see illnesses within those birds that needs to be reported very quickly,” he said.

The actual number is more than 57.8 million poultry infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s very serious and could get more serious,” Simpson continued.

“And I will say this: That’s why we need to continue to remove weights off the backs of our farmers, because Mother Nature’s going to send a hurricane; it’s going to send an avian flu. These are naturally occurring things.

“And it’s important that we continue to look at agriculture as a national-security issue. I’ve said it many times: We all understand our energy policy here — when oil goes to $125 a barrel gas goes to $5 a gallon. What happens if you don’t have food in the grocery store for seven days?”

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.