Florida lawmakers propose statewide preemption of local fertilizer use restrictions
The measure would prohibit at least 117 local governments from “adopting or amending a fertilizer management ordinance” during the 2023-24 budget year.
TALLAHASSEE — Florida legislators are poised to block one of the most effective tools local governments say they have to protect water quality in their communities in the face of red tide and blue-green algae outbreaks by banning rainy season restrictions on fertilizer use.
A measure quietly tucked into a budget proposal over the weekend would prohibit at least 117 local governments from “adopting or amending a fertilizer management ordinance” during the 2023-24 budget year, requiring them to rely on less restrictive regulations developed by the University of Florida, which are supported by the state’s phosphate industry, the producers of fertilizer.
Legislative leaders tentatively agreed to a $116 billion budget on Monday and, with no public debate or discussion, included the fertilizer language that emerged late Sunday.
It is the latest proposal to emerge in a legislative session that has fast-tracked industry-friendly bills aimed at removing local control and public input over emotionally-charged environmental and development issues.
Lawmakers took no testimony from local government officials or environmental advocates who are now warning that the measure could dramatically impede efforts to curb toxic algae outbreaks that feed on nitrogen and phosphorus-rich runoff.
“Supporting this change would allow more fertilizer runoff into Florida’s waters, period.,’’ said Eve Samples of Friends of the Everglades. “That doesn’t benefit anyone except big fertilizer companies.”