How Does Senate Bill 712 Affect Agricultural Producers?

How Does Senate Bill 712 Affect Agricultural Producers?
Nov 24, 2020
By Andrea Albertin
Senate Bill 712, “The Clean Waterways Act,” was signed into Florida law on June 30, 2020. The purpose of the bill was to further protect Florida’s water resources, and focuses on minimizing the impact of known sources of nutrient pollution. These sources include septic systems, wastewater treatment plants, storm-water runoff, as well as fertilizer used in agricultural production.
How does the Clean Waterways Act impact agricultural operations?
SB 712 affects all landowners and producers enrolled in the Florida Department of Consumer Services’ (FDACS) Best Management Practices (BMP) Program. Under this bill:
  • Every two years FDACS will make an onsite implementation verification (IV) visit to land enrolled in the BMP program. This is to ensure that BMPs are properly implemented. These visits will be coordinated between the producer and field staff from FDACS Office of Agriculture and Water Policy (OAWP).
  • During these visits (and as they have done in the past), field staff will review records that producers are required to keep under the BMP program.
  • Field staff will also collect copies of nitrogen and phosphorus application records.
FDACS-OAWP prepared a thorough document with responses to frequently asked questions (FAQ’s).  It includes responses to questions about site visits, record keeping, why FDACS is collecting nutrient records, and what will be done with this information. The fertilizer records collected are not public information, and are protected under the public records exemption (Section 403.067 Florida Statutes). For areas that fall under a Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP), FDACS will combine the nitrogen and phosphorus application data from enrolled properties (total pounds of N and P applied within the BMAP), and will send that information to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).
Although SB 712 affects all producers enrolled in the BMP program, the bill requires FDACS to prioritize the Lake Okeechobee, Indian River Lagoon, Caloosahatchee River and Estuary, and Silver Springs BMAP areas.
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