CK oyster situation heading to Putnam

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

When state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam stops in Trenton for a campaign event on Wednesday, from 1 to 4 p.m. it won't be just Gilchrist County agriculture on his agenda.

Levy County Commissioner Chad Johnson, Putnam's college roommate and fraternity brother, will be talking to his old pal about the need to get money for re-seeding the oyster population in the Suwannee River Basin, which includes Cedar Key and parts of Levy and Dixie counties.

Last month, the Cedar Key Oystermen's Association made a presentation to the Levy commissioners about the need for re-seeding after years of drought made water too salty and oysters vulnerable to parasites, before collapsing last year. The association was asking for help like that given to their neighbors to the north in Apalachicola Bay.

The Apalachicola oyster industry suffered the same issues. But unlike Cedar Key and the Suwannee River Basin, the Panhandle city got help. In February, the U.S. Department of Commerce approved $6.3 million in disaster relief funds and $1.8 million in state funds to help revive Aplachicola’s oyster industry with job training and oyster restoration.

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