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Florida Agriculture Commissioner Pushes For Water Policy

When entering office, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said one of the defining issues of his tenure in office would be water policy. His passion for the topic came through during a recent speech at the Florida Agriculture Financial Management Conference in Orlando.

During his talk, he stressed water is what makes Florida special and attractive to those who want to move here. In addition, he said now is the time to act to preserve water supply and quality before crisis occurs. When that happens, he said it would be too late to have meaningful control over water management actions.

He added that crisis looms in places like Central Florida where there could be a 250 million gallon water shortfall by 2030. Statewide, the shortfall will be 1 billion gallons per day by 2030. Meanwhile, water conflicts are occurring all over the state.

“My view is for the past 20 years water policy in this state has been Everglades policy,” he said. “There hasn’t been much more to it other than what has been going on south of the Lake [Okeechobee]. For farmers north of the Lake, if you want to understand intensive agriculture in a heavily regulated environment, just look to your friends who operate south of the Lake, because they operate in a completely different world than the rest of you. And, you don’t want to go there.”

Despite the heavy regulation, Putnam said growers in the Everglades Agricultural Area have far exceeded the water quality goals while remaining productive. Last year, growers in the area reduced phosphorus loads by 79%. The law requires a 25% reduction.