As significant as numeric nutrient criteria will be to the waterbodies in your communities, so too will be the authority to regulate one of the key contributing sources of nutrient enrichment - fertilizer.   You may recall that legislation filed in the last two sessions proposed the preemption of local government authority over fertilizer, ranging from a full preemption (including the sale, composition, formulation, packaging, use, application and distribution of fertilizer) to partial preemptions (for commercial applicators and prohibited application periods or “summer bans”).   

While the Association of Counties has played an important role in protecting home rule authority over the past several years, it is very likely that similar legislation will be introduced again this coming session.   At the 2012 Water Forum, Chairman Crisafulli (R – Merritt Island) stated that he expects a fertilizer bill to be filed this session, and legislative staff members with the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources have already contacted both FAC and the League of Cities seeking information related to fertilizer regulation.  Although the committee staff indicated that they are not working on an interim project or an analysis of any specific proposal, they were interested in the number of existing fertilizer ordinances and wanted to become more familiar with the issue.   

We would ask that you keep the fertilizer issue on your radar, look forward to FAC updates and requests for information, and to consider ways in which your county can help get the message across that home rule is the right policy for Florida.  If local government is to be responsible for nutrient over-enrichment, local government must maintain its source-control authority.   

For more information or questions please contact FAC Environmental Advocate Stephen James.