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Fertilizer legislation likely to be included in 2024 Florida Legislative session

Urban fertilizer application and agricultural fertilizer application are currently “being revised behind the scenes.”

The advocacy organization 1000 Friends of Florida recently discussed what to expect ahead of the state’s legislative session, which starts Jan. 9.

Haley Busch, with the nonprofit, said near the end of the last session, a pause on local fertilizer ordinances was "slipped" into the state's budget, so it wasn’t a standalone bill.

It prevented local governments from amending or adopting fertilizer ordinances for a full year. Cities and counties use fertilizer ordinances to prevent nutrients from feeding algae blooms, like red tide and blue-green algae, in local water bodies.

But lawmakers also required that the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study the effectiveness of these ordinances and present its results by Dec. 31.

Busch said to look out for legislation around this report.

“There are concerns that this new report might be a sort of a cherry-picking of select scientific studies from the past few decades," Busch said. "One year … the requirement for this study … one year is not enough time to conduct a full, thorough test of all those county and municipal fertilizer ordinances and their impacts on water quality.

"Our concern here is that the preemption on the local ordinances will be made permanent and local governments will lose their ability to tailor fertilizer ordinances to their local hydrology to their local and regional needs.”