Environment and agriculture issues are very important to AIF members as they have a direct correlation to many of Florida’s key industries. Environmental laws affect almost every Florida business directly or indirectly. Agriculture is one of Florida’s main industries, which is why AIF formed its Environmental Sustainability & Agriculture Council. We must be good stewards of our land and water resources, and AIF and its members will lead the way in protecting those resources.
AIF SUPPORTS continued full funding of the Office of Agricultural Water Policy within the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).
AIF SUPPORTS state funding for alternative water supply projects. When planning for Florida’s future, our state must have an adequate supply of water. Unless we begin to fund and build new water infrastructure that provides a sufficient amount of water to all users, we will not be in a position to meet future demand. It takes seven years to plan, design, build and permit a new major water facility. Experts have consistently opined that alternative water supply projects are our state’s best bet to achieve water security including reclaimed water projects, desalination plants, aquifer storage and recovery, reservoirs, water conservation, and similar tools. Those states with adequate water supply will have a head start on economic development and jobs in the future.
AIF SUPPORTS $8 million in state funding for research into the causes and cure of citrus greening disease. The citrus business is a significant player in our state’s agricultural industry, even as it continues to suffer losses from greening. This is a critical time to sustain research to defeat citrus greening disease.
AIF SUPPORTS the expansion of sales tax exemptions on items used in the production of agricultural products including fence materials, trailers used by farmers and those trailers specifically dedicated to moving agricultural products and other items integral to farm operations.
AIF SUPPORTS clarification of sales-tax exemptions for animal health products used in agricultural production.
AIF SUPPORTS Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam’s budgetary request for $50 million for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program here in our state. The Rural and Family Lands Protection Program is a preservation program designed to protect important agricultural lands through the acquisition of permanent land conservation easements.
AIF SUPPORTS the FDEPs role as the recipient of notifications regarding incidents from the regulated community. The Department has the experience, expertise and ability to determine potential impacts from any reported incidents, as well as maintaining information for interested parties to receive notifications. AIF OPPOSES legislation which requires business to report incidents directly to the media.
AIF SUPPORTS funding sound science-based programs and projects to improve the water quality and water quantity of Florida’s major first-magnitude springs. Florida has an outstanding water quality tool box with the Total Maximum Daily Load Program and the requirements for Minimum Flows and Levels. We support legislation which will use these sound scientific techniques on a water body specific basis, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. We support reasonable deadlines to implement these programs by state and water management districts. We support Governor Scott’s proposed $50 million funding for the Springs Recovery efforts. We endorse efforts by farmers to use “Best Management Practices” developed by the FDACS as a means of reducing the impact of their operations on the environment.
AIF SUPPORTS sound science-based, economically and technically feasible solutions to abate harmful discharges to coastal estuaries, improve water quality within Lake Okeechobee and maintain healthy water flows into the Everglades.
AIF SUPPORTS the following project and programmatic objectives below to achieve the restoration goals:
AIF SUPPORTS legislation which allows land owners to continue to have their property classified as “agricultural” if they are participating in a water retention program sponsored by a water management district. Water retention and storage are vital to expanding Florida’s water supply. Through its Florida H20 Coalition, AIF has supported legislative efforts to increase Florida’s water supply. AIF also endorses efforts to allow the owners of surface water storage projects, which provide water resource benefits, to be eligible for consumptive use permits for 50 years.
AIF SUPPORTS legislation which authorizes and funds the FDEP to administer a grant program enabling the transition of septic tanks to waste water treatment systems specifically within areas discharging into Lake Okeechobee, the Indian River Lagoon, or the St. Lucie or Caloosahatchee watersheds.
AIF SUPPORTS legislation which encourages and provides adequate incentives for greater utilization of reclaimed water where appropriate, as well as technically and economically feasible as an alternative to traditional ground and surface water sources.
AIF SUPPORTS legislation addressing the patchwork of inconsistent, unscientific and arbitrary county and municipal ordinances related to the fertilization of urban turf, lawns and landscapes. AIF will continue leading efforts to ensure sound science is the foundation of fertilizer use policies to protect our environment and provide predictable guidelines for residential users and businesses to operate without having to navigate through arbitrary and emotionally-driven local government ordinances.
AIF SUPPORTS strengthening the FDACS leadership on the development and adoption of science-based best management practices for fertilizer, nutrient and irrigation management on agricultural operations.
AIF OPPOSES any legislation which creates new taxes on plastic products to help pay for recycling efforts. This tax is unnecessary as a majority of Florida’s cities and counties have an excellent curbside recycling program. Forcing Florida’s families to pay even more at stores with no substantive improvement in our environment does not make economic or environmental sense.
AIF SUPPORTS efforts to increase and incentivize curbside recycling programs at the local government level.