The requirement that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) conduct Best Management Practice (BMP) implementation verification visits has been temporarily suspended for several counties impacted by Hurricane Ian. The action was taken Oct. 31 by Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried.
The 60-day suspension is effective for the counties of Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, Putnam, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia.
“Due to Hurricane Ian’s impact, the onsite verification of best management practices is not feasible and may be impossible for some producers due to the damage wrought by Hurricane Ian and the subsequent flooding,” the emergency order stated.
Prior to the suspension, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association President Michael Joyner sent Fried a letter asking that FDACS defer BMP verification site visits. He sought a suspension of at least six months for those producers hit hardest by the hurricane. The letter said the suspension would alleviate an additional burden on growers, “particularly for our citrus producers as they contend with an estimated 8% to 11% loss of viable trees.”
Joyner’s letter also stated that “unprecedented amounts of rainfall” resulted in historic levels of flooding in many areas. “Fertilizer applications required for our fall and winter crops, which were applied in the weeks preceding the storm, were literally washed away in their entirety,” Joyner wrote. “For those enrolled producers attempting to move forward and to salvage what remains of this growing season, they are now confronted with fears of being out of compliance with their respective BMP manuals due to additional applications of fertilizer needed to replace what was lost during the hurricane. In order to alleviate these concerns so as not to impede the growers’ ability to recover and to produce a viable crop, I am requesting that the additional replacement fertilizer applications applied subsequent to, and as a direct result of, Hurricane Ian, which are needed to reestablish impacted crops, not be counted against those affected growers from the standpoint of compliance with their respective commodity manuals.”
Sources: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association