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
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Precision in Specialty Crops Gains Momentum
Here are some of the key drivers that may transform your farm in the years ahead. Read More
Fruits
September 19, 2017
EPA Mulls Restricting Dicamba Use
Proposal is a part of agency’s focus on reducing herbicide injury in vulnerable crops. Read More
Fruits
September 19, 2017
Washington State University Creates BMSB Management Resource Page
As populations grow in the state, university offers growers pest management advice. Read More
Berries
September 19, 2017
UC Davis Strawberry Lawuit Settled
Former university breeders to return any crosses that used unpatented varieties and agree the school owns rights to them. Read More
Neo 1 hops at UF/IFAS MREC
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Hopes High for Hops Fresh From Florida
When it comes to alternative crop solutions, something good is brewing in the Sunshine State. Do you have what it takes to tap in? Read More
Apples & Pears
September 16, 2017
Researcher Finds Bacteria Can Stop Blue Mold on Apples
The natural bacterium found in soil can survive in cold storage; this promising biocontrol offers an alternative to chemical treatments. Read More
Laurel wilt-damaged avocado tree leaves
Disease Control
September 15, 2017
Scientist Uncovers Chilling Side of Deadly Avocado Disease
Lab tests indicate laurel wilt pathogen grows faster in the fall and winter. Read More
Winter melon damage from Hurricane Irma in Elkton, FL
Citrus
September 15, 2017
Help Extended to Hurricane-Weary Farmers Dealing With Disaster
USDA chief grants extra time and special procedures to document and file claims. Read More
raindrops in standing water
Citrus
September 13, 2017
New Guidance on FSMA Ag Water Compliance, Water Testing, and Farm Inspections Announced
FDA issued a rule to extend compliance dates for agricultural water and announced a start date for farm inspections. Read More
Biocontrols Conference
September 13, 2017
Get Better Results From Your Biopesticide Program
Softer crop protection programs are becoming a must in specialty crop production. Growers who aren’t learning more about their options Read More
citrus grove damage from Irma at SWFREC in Immokalee
Citrus
September 13, 2017
Florida Farmers Digging out From Impacts of Irma
Damage reports starting to flood in from the field following monster storm, and it's not pretty. Read More
Tomatoes
September 13, 2017
550 Pounds of Tomatoes Stolen from Massachusetts Farm
Community farm in Waltham, MA, has been hit by a thief three years running. Read More
Berries
September 12, 2017
Longtime American Fruit Grower Columnist Charlie O’Dell Dies
“The Ole Crow,” as he called himself, passed away unexpectedly at home in Virginia at the age of 82. Read More
Berries
September 12, 2017
How to Match Drip Irrigation to Improve Berry Water Management
Using root mass diameter to appropriately determine wetting pattern will help you improve growth rate and yields. Read More
Grapes
September 12, 2017
Heat Wave Leads to Early Winegrape Harvest in California’s Sonoma County
Ask any winegrape grower to describe the grape harvest in Sonoma County and you typically hear “harvest time is like Read More
The Latest
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Precision in Specialty Crops Gains Momen…
Here are some of the key drivers that may transform your farm in the years ahead. Read More
Fruits
September 19, 2017
EPA Mulls Restricting Dicamba Use
Proposal is a part of agency’s focus on reducing herbicide injury in vulnerable crops. Read More
Fruits
September 19, 2017
Washington State University Creates BMSB…
As populations grow in the state, university offers growers pest management advice. Read More
Berries
September 19, 2017
UC Davis Strawberry Lawuit Settled
Former university breeders to return any crosses that used unpatented varieties and agree the school owns rights to them. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Hopes High for Hops Fresh From Florida
When it comes to alternative crop solutions, something good is brewing in the Sunshine State. Do you have what it takes to tap in? Read More
Apples & Pears
September 16, 2017
Researcher Finds Bacteria Can Stop Blue …
The natural bacterium found in soil can survive in cold storage; this promising biocontrol offers an alternative to chemical treatments. Read More
Disease Control
September 15, 2017
Scientist Uncovers Chilling Side of Dead…
Lab tests indicate laurel wilt pathogen grows faster in the fall and winter. Read More
Citrus
September 15, 2017
Help Extended to Hurricane-Weary Farmers…
USDA chief grants extra time and special procedures to document and file claims. Read More
Citrus
September 13, 2017
New Guidance on FSMA Ag Water Compliance…
FDA issued a rule to extend compliance dates for agricultural water and announced a start date for farm inspections. Read More
Biocontrols Conference
September 13, 2017
Get Better Results From Your Biopesticid…
Softer crop protection programs are becoming a must in specialty crop production. Growers who aren’t learning more about their options Read More
Citrus
September 13, 2017
Florida Farmers Digging out From Impacts…
Damage reports starting to flood in from the field following monster storm, and it's not pretty. Read More
Tomatoes
September 13, 2017
550 Pounds of Tomatoes Stolen from Massa…
Community farm in Waltham, MA, has been hit by a thief three years running. Read More
Berries
September 12, 2017
Longtime American Fruit Grower Columnist…
“The Ole Crow,” as he called himself, passed away unexpectedly at home in Virginia at the age of 82. Read More
Berries
September 12, 2017
How to Match Drip Irrigation to Improve …
Using root mass diameter to appropriately determine wetting pattern will help you improve growth rate and yields. Read More
Grapes
September 12, 2017
Heat Wave Leads to Early Winegrape Harve…
Ask any winegrape grower to describe the grape harvest in Sonoma County and you typically hear “harvest time is like Read More
Nuts
September 12, 2017
Walnut Crop Expected to be Down 5%
While wet California winter was welcome to growers, some orchards were flooded, compromising root systems. Read More
Biocontrols Conference
September 11, 2017
The Grower’s Take: Citrus, HLB, and Biol…
Uncle Matt’s Organic orange juice brand has enjoyed steady growth since its 2002 inception. The brand’s success is due to Read More
Farm Management
September 10, 2017
$3 Million Available to Train Future Agr…
There are a lot more jobs being created than there are graduates with bachelor’s or higher degrees who can fill them. Read More