The Effect of the Clean Waterways Act on Ag

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The Clean Waterways Act (Senate Bill 712) was signed into law on June 30 by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The act discusses several mechanisms and provisions to protect waterways by reducing water pollution. It includes a few changes that directly affect the agriculture industry.

The law requires the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) to perform onsite implementation verification visits every two years at the properties that are enrolled in the FDACS best management practices (BMPs) program. During implementation verification visits, a FDACS representative will verify that the BMPs are correctly implemented and review implementation records. Nutrient and fertilizer application records will be retained, as outlined in the nutrient application record keeping form developed by FDACS.

FDACS is required to collect the total nutrient application data for the properties enrolled in FDACS BMP programs and to share this information with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). This information will be shared in aggregate; that is, FDACS will provide nutrient data to FDEP for a basin or sub-basin, not an individual. This new law requires that FDACS prioritize inspections in the areas covered by the Basin Management Action Plans. However, the intent is to eventually conduct onsite verification for all producers who are enrolled in FDACS BMP programs who apply nutrients.  

Get an overview of Senate Bill 712 and how it applies to agricultural BMPS from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). Additional information from FDACS on frequently asked questions pertaining to Senate Bill 712 is available here. Learn more about the FDACS BMP programs. Email Charles Shinn, director of government and community affairs at the Florida Farm Bureau Federation, for more information.

Tara Wade is an assistant professor at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee, and Tatiana Borisova is a UF/IFAS associate professor and Extension specialist in Gainesville.