The state legislative session was among the topics discussed at the March 21 Florida Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference. The annual event was held at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka. More than 100 people attended the conference, either in-person or virtually.
John Walt Boatright, director of national affairs for the Florida Farm Bureau Federation, gave a presentation on how agriculture fared during this year’s legislative session in Tallahassee. He said it was largely positive for farm priorities.
Boatright said $2.2 million in funds are proposed for a project that will develop an artificial intelligence tool to quantify ecosystem services delivered by Florida’s agricultural and natural systems.
“At the federal level and at the national level, this is a hot topic. This will be the issue of quantifying ecosystem services, particularly in the context of carbon credit markets. This is something that will be a major theme in the 2023 Farm Bill,” Boatright said.
Updating fertilizer recommendations from UF/IFAS also got a lot of attention during the session. A bill funding $8.7 million for research to update nutrient guidelines for citrus, corn, green beans, tomatoes and potatoes passed. These recommendations will be applied to the best management practices (BMPs) program administered by the state.
“That initial request was around $2 million,” Boatright said. “To be able to have the legislature see the value in this type of project, the need for updated research and to quadruple that request was very much welcomed and certainly will be put to good use given the diversity of crops we have in the state.”
Another related fertilizer bill in the legislative session was SB 1000. This legislation includes a special provision for citrus growers to utilize certified crop advisors to come to their groves to recommend precise, site-specific fertilizer application rates, while remaining in compliance with state BMP guidelines.
All bills currently await consideration from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
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