Recognizing the economic impact of Florida’s agricultural industry and the undeniable connection between environmental and agricultural laws to many of Florida’s key industries, AIF formed its Environmental Sustainability and Agricultural 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.
AIF SUPPORTS $8 million in state funding for research into the causes and cure of citrus greening disease. The citrusbusiness 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 to include all items used on a farm in the production of agricultural products. These include, but are not limited to fence materials, trailers used by farmers, and those trailers specifically dedicated to moving agricultural products and other items integral to farm operations.
AIF SUPPORTS Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam’s budgetary request for $50 million for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program in our state. The Rural and Family Lands Protection Program establishes a less-than-fee acquisition of the property’s development rights while the land remains on the local tax role, is managed by the private land owner, and allows agricultural production activities to continue.
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 toolbox with the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program and the requirements for Minimum Flows and Levels (MFLs). AIF SUPPORTS legislation which will use these sound science techniques on a water body specific basis, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. AIF also supports reasonable deadlines to implement these programs by state and water management districts. AIF SUPPORTS Governor Scott’s proposed $75 million funding for Springs Recovery efforts. AIF endorses efforts by farmers to use “Best Management Practices” developed by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as a means of reducing any environmental impacts of their operations.
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 authorizes and funds the Florida Department of Environmental Protection 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, the St. Lucie or Caloosahatchee watersheds, or the Florida 1st and 2nd order magnitude spring sheds.
AIF SUPPORTS legislation which increases Florida’s water supply by encouraging and providing adequate incentives for greater utilization of reclaimed water, as well as other alternative water supplies where appropriate, that are both technically and economically feasible as alternatives to traditional ground and surface water sources. AIF also supports efforts to allow the owners of surface water storage projects providing water resource benefits to be eligible for a consumptive use permit for 50 years.
When planning for Florida’s future, our state must have an adequate supply of water. Unless Florida begins to adjust policies and commit to fund and build new water infrastructure which provides sufficient amounts of water to all users, Florida will not be in a position to meet future demand. It takes seven years to plan, design, build and permit a major new water facility. Experts consistently opine that Florida’s best bet to achieving water security is through alternative water supply projects including reclaimed water projects, desalination plants, aquifer storage and recovery, reservoirs, water conservation, and similar tools. States with adequate water supply will have a head start on future economic development and jobs.
AIF SUPPORTS legislation which protects private property rights. AIF will continue to lead efforts to protect and strengthen laws such as The Bert J. Harris Private Property Rights Act which protects property owners from government “takings.” In addition, AIF will continue to lead efforts to protect property owners from government actions which unreasonably limit land use flexibility or unduly reduces the value of privately owned lands.
AIF SUPPORTS legislation addressing the patchwork of inconsistent, unscientific and arbitrary county and municipal ordinances related to fertilization of urban turf, lawns and landscapes. AIF will continue to lead efforts to ensure sound science is the foundation of fertilizer use policies to protect Florida’s environment and provide predictable guidelines for residential users and businesses without having to navigate through arbitrary and emotionallydriven local government ordinances.
AIF SUPPORTS strengthening the Florida Department of agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) leadership on the development and adoption of sound science-based best management practices for fertilizer, nutrient and irrigation management in agricultural operations.
AIF OPPOSES 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 effective curbside recycling programs. 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.
AIF OPPOSES legislation which creates a deposit tax for glass bottles. These “added” costs directly impact Florida families without providing any increased incentives for recycling or environmental improvements.