BMPs Implementation and Verification Stepping Up in Florida

Ernie NeffBMPs

BMPs
Photo courtesy of the Southwest Florida Water Management District

Highlands County Citrus Growers Association (HCCGA) is urging its members to “seriously consider” enrolling in and implementing best management practices (BMPs) if they haven’t already done so.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Ag Water Policy (FDACS-OAWP), as a result of several changes in state law, is in the process of stepping up its BMPs implementation and verification protocols, HCCGA notes.

“Our region is a BMAP (basin management action plans) priority area for BMP compliance,” HCCGA states. It says agricultural producers not enrolled in or following appropriate BMPs for their operations will soon be referred to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). DEP will ensure that the operation is meeting the appropriate water quality standards, and growers will lose the “presumption of compliance” that adherence to BMPs provides.

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HCCGA reports that FDACS-OAWP is mandated to audit all BMP-enrolled operations every two years in order for the operations to retain the “presumption of compliance standard” for those operations.

If an agriculture property is currently not being utilized or is fallow, it should still be enrolled in the BMP program, HCCGA advises. A landowner must notify FDACS-OAWP that he or she is going to be “temporarily inactive” and wants to maintain the operation’s BMP status for some period of time.

The recently updated BMAP regulations require that FDACS-OAWP provide a list of unenrolled, or inactive, agricultural property owners to DEP in early February 2021. They also require FDACS-OAWP to carry out BMP implementation verification and nutrient record checkups on each enrollee at least every two years. FDACS-OAWP staff will be going on site to accomplish those tasks.

Agricultural landowners that do not have a BMP enrollment associated with their property were recently notified by mail that they need to take action. “If you received a letter about such a parcel and have not yet followed the instructions contained, you are encouraged to do so promptly,” HCCGA advises.

Those with questions are encouraged to contact the FDACS-OAWP field staff or Susie Bishop at the Highlands Soil and Water Conservation District (HSWCD) office at 863-402-7020. HSWCD is under contract with FDACS-OAWP to provide BMP enrollment and implementation verification in Highlands County.

Learn more about grower participation in BMPs and the value of participating.

Source: Highlands County Citrus Growers Association

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