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
Crop Protection
July 23, 2017
USDA Invests $7.6 Million toward Beneficial Research
Projects to promote beneficial organisms as part of a pest control strategy. Read More
Citrus
July 22, 2017
Representative from Washington Proposes Amendment to H-2A Program
Move broadens use of H-2A to all of agriculture to include those with multiple crops and harvests. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
July 21, 2017
University of California Launches Website to Update Growers on Citrus Research
Easy-to-read format designed to give growers up-to-date information on huanglongbing and Asian citrus psyllid research. Read More
Hurricane Matthew satellite image as it brushed past Florida
Citrus
July 20, 2017
Atlantic Hurricane Forecast Taken Up a Notch
Current conditions in the tropics warrant marked revision in potential storm season scenarios. Read More
Sunset on Florida potato field day
Citrus
July 19, 2017
Researchers On a Mission to Find More Places for Growing Produce
Federal grant to aid exploration of food security solutions for the future. Read More
Citrus
July 19, 2017
Farm Labor Stories Making the News This Week
The agricultural labor shortage is strong enough that the consumer press is beginning to report on it regularly. Here are the stories making headlines this month. Read More
Sweet Corn
July 19, 2017
Variety Specs | Production Tips: Corn ‘Anthem XR’ from Rispens Seeds
Each month, American Vegetable Grower® will offer growing tips on specific varieties, supplied by the breeder or distributor. This month, we’re offering Read More
farm hacks collage
Citrus
July 19, 2017
Florida Grower Magazine is Seeking Your Farm Hacks
Life hacks are common in social media threads these days. They are those clever ideas or tricks aimed at making Read More
Organic
July 19, 2017
4 Challenges Large Operations Face in Organic Vegetable Production
Organic vegetable production in Monterey County has evolved over the past 25 years. It was once the domain of small- Read More
Farm Management
July 19, 2017
Tom Nunes, V: The Best Labor Solutions Are When Everyone Wins
Competition for skilled farm labor is fierce in the West. But Nunes Vegetables, Inc. believes when growers work together, they will attract more workers to their community. Read More
Fruits
July 14, 2017
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Predator Egg Mass Found
Samuri wasp parasitized egg mass found in Southern New Jersey peach orchard. Read More
Rain drops on leaf
Citrus
July 14, 2017
Everglades Agricultural Area Farmers Winning at Water Quality
Annual report shows use of best management practices results in another massive reduction in phosphorus flow. Read More
cut watermelon
Cucurbits
July 13, 2017
Scientists Keying in on Sweeter and Stronger Watermelon Varieties
New study shows grafting can give growers an upper hand on soilborne disease threats. Read More
Citrus
July 13, 2017
The Road is Long to Farm Bill 2018 [Opinion]
Participation in this process will be crucial to ensure your needs are understood and addressed. Read More
2015 FFVA Annual Convention crowd
Citrus
July 13, 2017
Trade Talk to Top Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association Convention Agenda
Trade issues are top of mind these days for specialty crop producers. Efforts have been underway since early this year Read More
The Latest
Crop Protection
July 23, 2017
USDA Invests $7.6 Million toward Benefic…
Projects to promote beneficial organisms as part of a pest control strategy. Read More
Citrus
July 22, 2017
Representative from Washington Proposes …
Move broadens use of H-2A to all of agriculture to include those with multiple crops and harvests. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
July 21, 2017
University of California Launches Websit…
Easy-to-read format designed to give growers up-to-date information on huanglongbing and Asian citrus psyllid research. Read More
Citrus
July 20, 2017
Atlantic Hurricane Forecast Taken Up a N…
Current conditions in the tropics warrant marked revision in potential storm season scenarios. Read More
Citrus
July 19, 2017
Researchers On a Mission to Find More Pl…
Federal grant to aid exploration of food security solutions for the future. Read More
Citrus
July 19, 2017
Farm Labor Stories Making the News This …
The agricultural labor shortage is strong enough that the consumer press is beginning to report on it regularly. Here are the stories making headlines this month. Read More
Sweet Corn
July 19, 2017
Variety Specs | Production Tips: Corn &#…
Each month, American Vegetable Grower® will offer growing tips on specific varieties, supplied by the breeder or distributor. This month, we’re offering Read More
Citrus
July 19, 2017
Florida Grower Magazine is Seeking Your …
Life hacks are common in social media threads these days. They are those clever ideas or tricks aimed at making Read More
Organic
July 19, 2017
4 Challenges Large Operations Face in Or…
Organic vegetable production in Monterey County has evolved over the past 25 years. It was once the domain of small- Read More
Farm Management
July 19, 2017
Tom Nunes, V: The Best Labor Solutions A…
Competition for skilled farm labor is fierce in the West. But Nunes Vegetables, Inc. believes when growers work together, they will attract more workers to their community. Read More
Fruits
July 14, 2017
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Predator Egg …
Samuri wasp parasitized egg mass found in Southern New Jersey peach orchard. Read More
Citrus
July 14, 2017
Everglades Agricultural Area Farmers Win…
Annual report shows use of best management practices results in another massive reduction in phosphorus flow. Read More
Cucurbits
July 13, 2017
Scientists Keying in on Sweeter and Stro…
New study shows grafting can give growers an upper hand on soilborne disease threats. Read More
Citrus
July 13, 2017
The Road is Long to Farm Bill 2018 [Opin…
Participation in this process will be crucial to ensure your needs are understood and addressed. Read More
Citrus
July 13, 2017
Trade Talk to Top Florida Fruit & Ve…
Trade issues are top of mind these days for specialty crop producers. Efforts have been underway since early this year Read More
Citrus
July 12, 2017
Shaky Florida Citrus Season Skids to a S…
Final USDA tally confirms continuing downward trend of production in the HLB era. Read More
Citrus Achievement Award
July 12, 2017
Encourage New Citrus Growth by Getting B…
2017 Florida Grower Citrus Achievement Award winner Ed Pines says producing crops under protective screen is a way to farm more and stress less. Read More
Citrus
July 12, 2017
Tomato Pests Can Be Induced to Cannibali…
The University of Wisconsin's John Orrock says when beet armyworms are exposed to concentrations of methyl jasmonate, they will abandon eating tomatoes — and start eating one another. Read More