| Agriculture and Water Bills Head to Governor DeSantis|
|Farm Bill Signed|
On Thursday, Governor DeSantis signed SB 88 by Sen. Brodeur (R- Lake Mary). This legislation expands farmers’ protection from nuisance suits. The bill, a top priority of Senate President Wilton Simpson, protects farmers and farming operations from people who move into rural communities and then file complaints. The sweeping legislation restricts certain types of civil lawsuits based on farming activities, requires plaintiffs to prove noncompliance with state or federal requirements, and limits who may file nuisance lawsuits against farmers. In addition, plaintiffs must provide clear and convincing evidence the farming activity does not comply with state and federal environmental laws, regulations, or best management practices. This may make it harder for Floridians to address agricultural pollution of wetlands and waterways.
DEP Rules Legislation Passes House
On Thursday, the House also passed HB 1309, which ratifies two Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) rules.
(1) The Biosolids Rule: Regulates the land application of sewage sludge.
(2) Central Florida Water Initiative Rule: Implements strategies to meet water demands that are in excess of the existing traditional groundwater sources and establishes consistent rules and regulations for the three water management districts to implement the results of the Central Florida Water Initiative. DEP had previously stated that water use would have to change in this rapidly growing region if they didn’t want to run out of water for consumption and the environment. Originally in SB 7062 (Sen. Brodeur, R-Lake Mary), this ratification was added to HB 1309 by the Senate.
Unfortunately, DEP agreed to settle with local governments challenging the rule because they were unwilling to limit their water consumption in the interest of protecting water supply. The much weakened rule cuts protections, conservation measures, and necessary permit changes. The result is far less effective than what is desperately needed in this fast growing region of the state. Click here to learn more.
HB 1309 will soon be on its way to Governor DeSantis who is anticipated to sign it into law.