TAMPA, Fla. — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried presented and discussed a water quality legislation, HB807/SB904, at the Florida State Fairgrounds on Tuesday. This comes a week out from the start of the legislative session.
I-Team Investigator Kylie McGivern has revealed efforts from the department to get people into compliance on Florida farms to protect our natural resources.
From a recent report, a lack of enforcement was found when it comes to holding farmers and producers accountable for doing their part to keep Florida waters clean. The bill was presented by Fried at the Florida State Fairgrounds Tuesday.
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The bill aims to "fill the enforcement gap" when it comes to producers following the state's best management practices, Fried said.
The legislation would give the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) the ability to enforce its own rules and issue fines up to $5,000, without taking any authority away from the Department of Environmental Protection.
The bill would also call for best management practice manuals to be updated every five years to include the latest research, data and technologies available to help farmers be more efficient and better protect Florida waters. It would also allow the department to provide incentives.
"This is not a partisan issue. Water is a lifeblood of our state, regardless of whether you’re a republican, democrat, independent, or not registered. We all drink water, we all need water to grow our food," said Fried. "Certainly people come here to our state for our beautiful beaches and for our environment, and if we destroy it, we are losing our number one and number two economic driver.”
The Florida Legislative Session begins on Jan. 11.
This is among the bills we will be following that impact Floridians and the future of the state.