The perplexing return of the Florida caviar farm subsidy

(Tallahassee) – A budget line item that was vetoed by Governor Ron DeSantis in 2020 is back from the dead.

The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) is calling on Representative Brad Drake to withdraw his request to include $1.8 million in the 2021-2022 state budget for Bascom Farms, a sturgeon farm in Jackson County.

In the funding request, House Bill 4097, Rep. Drake explains that the funds are intended to repair damage caused by Hurricane Michael more than two years ago.

At Bascom Farms (aka Sturgeon Aquafarms), more than 10,000 sturgeon are confined inside tanks. The large, slow-growing fish spend years swimming endless circles before the females reach maturity. They are then cut open and their eggs removed to be sold as caviar.

“It was wrong last year to use the public’s money to support a for-profit caviar producer, and it’s especially wrong now in the midst of a pandemic,” said ARFF Campaigns Coordinator Nick Atwood. “We urge Representative Drake to withdraw this ridiculous appropriation.”

Sturgeon Aquafarms is an affiliate company of Marky’s, a Miami-based retailer of foie gras and other “gourmet” foods. Marky’s operates a caviar store and restaurant on Madison Avenue in New York City, a caviar lounge at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, and a bar at the glitzy Aventura Mall.

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