Opinion: Stand Tall For Stewardship

Mary Hartney head shot

The tide is turning in the fight against EPA’s imposition of Numeric Nutrient Criteria (NNC) in Florida. Opponents of the federal rules have been making waves and gaining ground in recent weeks. The coordinated pushback against the agency’s rules has included a partial victory in the ongoing legal challenges, the unanimous approval of state NNC standards by the Legislature, a letter-writing campaign to President Obama, and the introduction of bills in Congress to get EPA to back off.

In February, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), and other stakeholders in the legal challenges, commended a court ruling released by U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Hinkle that invalidates parts of EPA’s NNC rules. Judge Hinkle’s decision establishes biological harm, not just an increase of nutrients above background concentrations, as the basis for numeric nutrient standards. Hinkle’s decision included a determination that EPA’s stream criteria, and certain aspects of its downstream protective values, were arbitrary and capricious and those provisions were invalidated.

TFI President Ford West stated: “TFI is extremely pleased with the outcome of this litigation and the overall efforts of a unified industry and agriculture community. While we rarely seek the assistance of the court, we strongly believed that the potential harm EPA’s NNC posed to Florida’s phosphate industry and Florida agriculture along with the precedent setting nature of the EPA rule merited a legal challenge. EPA should now return to Florida the authority to protect its own water resources.”

Science Fact

The state’s numeric nutrient standards, adopted by the Environmental Regulation Commission in December, are based on a decade of research and data collection by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). They are designed to ensure water quality, protect public health, and preserve well-balanced aquatic ecosystems throughout the state. Earlier this year, these standards were unanimously approved by the state Legislature, signed by Gov. Rick Scott, and sent to EPA with a request the agency approve these as the plan for improved water quality in Florida. “The rules address the complexity of Florida’s various aquatic ecosystems by focusing on site-specific analyses of each water body,” said FDEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “This allows us to better account for the many natural factors that influence the effect nutrients have on aquatic plants and animals, and find the most appropriate nutrient levels for each individual waterbody.”

Florida’s efforts to regain control over its water standards also have been bolstered by the introduction of bills in D.C. by Congressman Steve Southerland and Sen. Marco Rubio. The State Waters Partnership Act requires EPA to recognize Florida’s science-based state standards for water quality, rather than imposing a unique standard for Florida and Florida alone.

Meanwhile, the NNC Taskforce (ably directed by Keyna Cory with the Associated Industries of Florida), a broad coalition of local governments, utilities, stormwater interests, agriculture, and businesses, has launched a massive grassroots campaign to petition President Obama to direct EPA to accept Florida’s rules and withdraw its determination.

The Real Task At Hand

This opposition to the unrealistic standards set by EPA — which were the result of a settlement of a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice — is not a fight against clean water. There are real problems that must be addressed. Florida has 1,918 miles of streams and rivers and 378,000 acres of lakes deemed impaired due to nutrients. The fight is about how we can best do the cleanup using science and achievable standards. The state’s rules are a more realistic approach to prioritizing cleanups and attaining water quality improvements.

We all have a role to play in protecting our environment. FFAA is committed to working with Florida growers on nutrient stewardship. Our emphasis is on the 4 Rs of optimal fertilizer use (the Right Source, Right Rate, Right Place, and Right Time). A fifth R is that this is the right thing to do.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Opinion: Stand Tall For Stewardship

  1. You guys are a bunch of self-serving liars, that have destroyed South Florida's Everglades-based waters. Try and tell the truth for once!!!

Featured Stories

All Vegetables Stories >All Fruits Stories >All Nuts Stories >All Citrus Stories >

The Latest

Insect & Disease UpdateAdditional Aid Coming For Florida Citrus Growers Gouged…
September 17, 2014
Through USDA’s Tree Assistance Program, eligible growers can cash in on cost share for diseased tree removal and replanting. Read More
FruitsFlorida Fruit & Vegetable Association Seeks Fresh A…
September 17, 2014
New partnership bolsters Fresh From Florida program. Read More
CitrusFDA Announces Cooperative Agreement To Implement Nation…
September 17, 2014
Agreement will provide information to help plan and carry out the produce safety rule in partnership with state regulatory agencies. Read More
NutsAchieving A Super-Premium Walnut Crop
September 17, 2014
What are the best ways to get high quality walnuts that are light in color and fully developed? Read these 8 harvest best practices to find out. Read More
NutsAlmond Growers Highly Dependent On Groundwater
September 17, 2014
Fully 87% of large growers use groundwater to irrigate their trees. Read More
NutsWarm Winter And Drought Casting Doubt On Pistachio Harv…
September 17, 2014
Though Rabobank report says that one billion pounds still attainable by 2019. Read More
Crop ProtectionBagrada Bug On The Move In California
September 16, 2014
Find out more on management tactics and what counties are impacted by this invasive pest. Read More
Cucurbits14 Stand-Out Melon Varieties [Slideshow]
September 15, 2014
Browse the slideshow below for information on these exceptional melon varieties from the nation’s leading seed breeders and distributors. Read More
Grower Achievement AwardView Highlights From The 2014 United Fresh Washington P…
September 15, 2014
Browse this slideshow to view photos from the 2014 United Fresh Washington Public Policy Conference, including pictures of this year’s Grower Read More
Apples & PearsCanneries Hope To Encourage Growers To Grow Pears For P…
September 15, 2014
Higher wholesale prices offered as means to boost canning pear acres. Read More
FruitsDeadline Nearing For Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistanc…
September 15, 2014
Fruit growers who suffered losses due to frost or freeze in 2012 could be eligible for assistance through USDA’S Farm Service Agency. Read More
BerriesBotrytis Gray Mold Pressure Increasing With Humid Weath…
September 15, 2014
Michigan State University researcher offers tips to reduce the spread of spores. Read More
Fruits5 Mistakes You May Be Making With Your Orchard’s …
September 15, 2014
These deadly sins may be hurting your customers’ experience — and costing you money. Read More
FruitsSuccess And The Not-Top-100 Grower [Opinion]
September 15, 2014
Innovation isn't only happening at the top. Some of the most interesting ideas in the fruit industry are being executed by small growers. Read More
Apples & PearsAmerican and Western Fruit Grower’s 2014 Top Appl…
September 13, 2014
The nations’s largest growers reflect how technology, innovations, and promotion help make their businesses run more efficiently. Read More
NutsAmerican and Western Fruit Grower’s 2014 Top Nut …
September 13, 2014
Almonds, pistachios, and walnuts grown in California make up the crops featured in this portion of the Top 100 Report. Read More
FruitsAmerican and Western Fruit Grower’s 2014 Top 100 …
September 13, 2014
The nations’s largest growers reflect how technology, innovations, and promotion help make their businesses run more efficiently. Read More
Stone FruitAmerican and Western Fruit Grower’s 2014 Top Ston…
September 13, 2014
This year’s Top 100 Report features the 25 largest stone fruit growers in the country. Read More