EPA Water Regulations Would Devastate Florida Agriculture

Randall Weiseman Citrus, Florida, General, Specialty Crops

Florida Citrus MutualLAKELAND, Fla. (April 23, 2010) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed water regulations will cost Florida agriculture billions of dollars and thousands of jobs, according to a report issued this week by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).

Florida largest citrus trade organization says the EPA should take note of the study and set policy accordingly.

“The FDACS report confirms what we already knew to be true,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “There is no way Florida agriculture, including the $9 billion citrus industry, can survive if the EPA actually follows through with their proposal. Of course we all want clean water, it is essential to our livelihood in agriculture, but we need to set reasonable goals.”

“I would like to thank Commissioner Charles Bronson, U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam and the rest of the Florida delegation for their leadership on this issue.”

The proposed regulations would set strict unattainable numeric standards for nutrients running into Florida’s lakes, streams and coastal waters. The rules were prompted by a lawsuit. Over the past two months, the EPA has held six public meetings across Florida attended by hundreds of businesspeople, farmers, municipalities and citizens opposed to the regulations. Comments on the rules are due at the end of April.

FDACS’ study, which was done in conjunction with University of Florida economists, estimates that the total initial costs for Florida agriculture to implement all applicable practices under the numeric nutrient criteria will range from $855 million to $3.069 billion.

The total recurring (annual) costs will range from $271 to $974 million, the report states. Lost revenues associated with land taken out of production to implement on-farm water treatment/retention practices are estimated to be $631 million annually. Thus, total recurring expenditures and revenue reductions for agriculture are estimated to range from $902 million to $1.605 billion annually.

Beyond the direct impact on the agricultural sector, the study says, Florida’s economy as a whole will be affected by losing $631 million in agricultural revenues. The secondary ripple effect on suppliers and employee spending is estimated to equal negative $1.148 billion annually. The annual impact on Florida’s labor income is estimated to be negative $326 million while losing 14,545 full-time, part-time, and seasonal jobs. Click here to view the entire report.

The Florida citrus industry creates a $9 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 76,000 people, and covering more than 560,000 acres. Founded in 1948 and currently representing nearly 8,000 grower members, Florida Citrus Mutual is the state’s largest citrus grower organization. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com.

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