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Water-Related News

Bill encouraging water storage projects on farm lands is moving in Senate

By Bruce Ritchie

A bill that would exempt public water projects on farmlands from being considered as income-producing ventures for landowners is moving through the Senate.

SB 312 would allow farmers with water storage projects to maintain their agricultural greenbelt tax classifications. Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby and bill sponsor, said the legislation would provide another tool for the South Florida Water Management District to work with landowners to store water.

"Of course we need all the water storage we can get in Florida," Simpson said during an interview Monday. "The concern has been they would lose their greenbelt (tax advantages). The property appraiser would come in and say, 'This is not bona-fide agriculture."

The bill also would provide a sales tax exemption for farm irrigation equipment to encourage farmers to install water-saving improvements, Simpson said. Analysts have not determined the cost of the bill.

With support from groups including the Florida Farm Bureau Federation, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida and Audubon Florida, SB 372 passed its second committee stop last week.