Editorial: Florida’s Controversial Algae Bloom

Josh McGillCitrus

Comments from AgNet Media’s Gary Cooper and a Guest Commentary from a Former Florida Lawmaker

GaryAs a Florida native having grown up on a small farm in eastern Palm Beach County, I’ve had firsthand knowledge of South Florida’s algae blooms for decades. As a professional journalist dedicated to the ag news beat in Florida for nearly 40 years, and having covered many other controversial environmental stories in the Sunshine State, it is no surprise to hear minimally informed or slanted critics jumping on the “blame agriculture” bandwagon once again. Historically, it seems to be a popular method of some anti-agriculture or anti-sugar interests to divert the blame that belongs elsewhere if a more accurate truth be known.

We’re not saying agriculture is always perfect or pristine. But we do know for a fact that agriculturists and their industry leaders, by and large, care deeply about the health of the environment. As such, they have always tried to follow the best proven science in producing the expanding food and fiber needs of consumers in this nation and around the globe.

It has always amazed me personally that most people in this nation don’t realize one of the biggest reasons the United States is the world power it is, is because we can feed ourselves and a good deal of the rest of the free world, too. Maybe what keeps us going here at AgNet Media is the fact that farmers need to stay informed to do their best, and the public needs to learn more about the facts of farming, too. Goodness knows, the other side of the news fence has plenty of urbanites telling the other side of the farm story.

As long as our agricultural audience appreciates what we do, and their suppliers continue to support us with marketing and advertising messaging that allows us to remain sustainably in business, we will be here to bring you news from the agriculture perspective as fair and accurately as we know how.

And we will occasionally share editorial commentary with our audience when we feel it is appropriate, such as with this communique below I received from a former Florida lawmaker:

Harrington - 200 x 250Mr. Cooper:

Please offer some answers on why the algae bloom is occurring.

Yes, ag has some fault in this mess but not the full responsibility for this catastrophe. We, the laymen, need information so we can go to the public and inform them correctly about how septic tanks, especially the unmaintained septic tanks, citizens groups who fought sewer system implementation, lawn fertilizers, natural elements and chemicals all contribute in some way both directly and indirectly to this mess. Friends on the east coast are pounding on ag and our governor for what has happened. I am trying to educate them. Ag ain’t the culprit. Many times, those who complain are those who fuss just after they have sowed fertilizer on their lawns last month.

These are smart folks who are informationally disarmed. They do not know how and why this occurred. This has been ongoing for three to five decades. They are blaming the governor (five years in office). This all was created and has been allowed to happen for decades by local citizens, local and county governments, health departments, the water management districts and yes, even the Department of Environmental Protection along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who are all part or fully responsible in some way for this catastrophe. Publish some information to help us educate all our friends.

Your citrus magazine and news sources are awesome for ag.


Lindsay M. Harrington, GRI
Community Commercial Realtor, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate
Former State Representative and Speaker pro tempore, Florida House of Representatives

See Citrus Industry’s report with Florida Farm Bureau’s Charles Shinn

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