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Our Perspective on Clean Water and Healthy Communities
Florida’s farmers and ranchers live on the land that supports their livelihoods. The care they give to natural resources is guided by more than an economic incentive.
They share a deep concern for the future well-being of their families and their communities.
Resource conservation is the key to producing food, fiber and renewable fuels as well as improving the quality of life for future generations of Floridians.
Our farm families are stewards of the land. They do everything they can to protect the abundant resources we are privileged to manage in our state.
Their adoption of state-of-the-art methods of water resource conservation has been proven by field measurement. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has reported that farms and ranches conserve at least 11 billion gallons of water each year through such methods.
More than nine million acres of farm property are now included under Best Management Practices designed by university researchers and supervised by state experts. These practices involve establishing closed systems of water recycling, precise measurement of plant nutrient usage, prescribed animal stocking rates and other techniques that benefit all residents of our state.
Florida Farm Bureau’s commitment to this objective is demonstrated in our County Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship (CARES) program – a collaborative initiative that is supported by more than 60 state and federal agencies, businesses, county governments and organizations. We recognize each farm owner who has achieved verifiable success at natural resource management with a CARES award. To date, we have introduced nearly 600 CARES award recipients.
We will continue to work toward constructing partnerships with all stakeholders in promoting outstanding resource stewardship.
We also continue to believe that land use decisions and water conservation strategies should be left to states and local communities – as stipulated by the federal Clean Water Act. Congress has previously determined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should not dictate such matters. Instead, officials more directly accountable to citizens should exercise this authority.
Florida Farm Bureau has consistently endorsed this principle when considering various water resource issues.
Our endorsement of the American Farm Bureau’s position on the Chesapeake Bay litigation is another example of our principled opposition to the EPA’s power grab over local land use decisions. We agree with nearly everyone that cleaning up polluted water is a desirable goal and should be supported. But centralized federal control over where a school or a home or a farm can be established is beyond what the founders of our nation envisioned as a proper governmental purpose. It is also a draconian scheme that the economic and social life of our communities cannot afford.
Several state attorneys general, including Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, agree with this position and have joined in an amicus brief supporting the American Farm Bureau in its litigation.
Restoration of Chesapeake Bay should be a priority. But it must be a priority for the citizens who live and work in the region, not a federal agency that has sketched a one-size-fits-all with the potential to wreck local communities.
Florida Farm Bureau will continue to support farm conservation initiatives throughout our state and our nation. We will continue to endorse the application of reliable, effective strategies that preserve the natural abundance within our local communities.
As we do so, we will look forward to working with our non-farm neighbors as we seek to improve the quality of life in Florida for everyone.