The 2022 Florida Legislative Session wrapped up last week when lawmakers passed the $112.1 billion budget for next fiscal year. Looking at some of the ways that relates to agriculture, in her final legislative report for the session Mary Ann Hooks, director of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Government Affairs, noted they did exceptionally well and they are thrilled to report that all priority projects have been funded including:
? $8,763,753- Research on nutrient application rate on citrus, corn, green beans, tomatoes, and potatoes with the intention of adding additional crops.
? $3,615,000– UF/IFAS base budget (Workload).
? $1,100,000- Geomatics program, an undergraduate program in the study of Geospatial Analysis, Surveying and Mapping and more.
? $2.2 million- Ecosystem Services Project which will develop an artificial intelligence (AI) tool to identify, validate, and quantify ecosystem services delivered by agricultural and natural systems in Florida.
? $2.5 million- Florida Friendly Landscaping to expand the program, outreach, and promotion to encourage ecologically sustainable, science-based landscaping practices to protect water resources.
? $1.9 million- Two student dorms. Graduate Students at the West Florida REC will benefit from much needed housing which is very limited in rural areas.
Mary C. Hartney, president of the Florida Fertilizer & Agrichemical Association (FFAA), was pleased with the $8.7 million to continue and expand upon the UF/IFAS Fertilizer Rate Study for several key Florida crops.
She also notes funding within the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is another key budget area for FFAA and its members. Some of the highlights from that budget include: $35 Million for the Office of Agriculture Water Policy for BMP implementation; $1.5 Million for Water; $5 Million for Lake Okeechobee Agricultural BMP projects; and $100,000 for Operation Cleansweep.
The next stop for the $112 billion spending package is the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis. But he’s already said the budget approved by the Legislature may be too generous in areas, and those celebrating inclusion of their projects in the spending plan should refrain from celebrating too early. DeSantis says he expects to make cuts throughout the record budget for the fiscal year that will start July 1st.