Working hard every day, using Best Management Practices (BMPs) to attain better water quality, farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area have achieved what detractors said couldn’t be done – they’ve harvested a record breaking “bumper crop” in phosphate level reduction. A 79 percent reduction to be precise – three times better than the state requirements.
EAA Farmers are understandably ecstatic.
Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam expressed his own admiration for the results and appreciation for the farmers who produced them stating, “Farmers and ranchers throughout our state are looking toward science and data in order to protect Florida’s waterways and manage farms more efficiently, and today’s announcement shows that Best Management Practices are working,” said Putnam. “I thank the farmers and ranchers in the EAA for their continued commitment to being good stewards of the land.”
Brian Hughes, the spokesman for a coalition of farmers operating within the Everglades Agricultural Area expressed satisfaction, stating “This has been a great month for EAA farmers, with both the South Florida Water Management District announcing historic phosphorus reductions for the Everglades Agricultural Area, and the Second District Court of Appeals upholding the use of Best Management Practices…”
The announcement made by the South Florida Water Management District came in the form of a “Proclamation of the Governing Board”
The battles in the Second District Court of Appeals that Hughes referred to were the legal suits instigated by farming opponents and detractors such as the Florida Audubon Society claiming that the Best Management Practices were not stringent enough, a claim that the court rejected completely pointing out that the current on-farm practices are exceeding state requirements and goals (see the ruling here). In an earlier post, we uncovered the shadowy ties between the Florida Audubon Society and the Everglades Trust and Everglades Foundation. While farming opponents wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on legal wrangling and attempted legal entanglements, sugarcane farmers worked every day continuing their successful trend of water clean-up and Everglades restoration, a trend that goes back 20 years with an average reduction in phosphorus of 56 percent annually.
The farmers of the EAA are achieving, through practical application of Best Management Practices, what nay-sayers, detractors and farming opponents claim to support – clean water and Everglades Restoration, but despite the continually growing body of evidence proving the commitment of the EAA farmer and the effectiveness of BMPs, those in opposition to farming continue to waste time and taxpayer dollars through their legal histrionics.
Meanwhile, farmers like Brian Hughes continue their daily battle on the frontlines of Everglades restoration and water clean-up, bringing in victory with each new water quality report. “With this court case behind us, we look forward to building on these successes and continuing our efforts to fund research on effective Best Management Practices that improve water quality in South Florida. On behalf of thousands of Floridians working in the Everglades Agricultural Area, we thank members of the South Florida Water Management District for their recognition of this historic accomplishment and also for their leadership on this issue. Working together, we can continue to clean water flowing to the Everglades.”