Bills smartly call for uniform fertilizer regulations

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Does one size fit all Florida for fertilizer regulations?

Rep. Clay Ingram, a Pensacola Republican, says yes. He proposes to limit fertilizer-management rules to a single statewide model enforced by the Department of Agriculture. His bill would prohibit local governments from implementing stricter regulations. Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, has an identical bill in the Senate.

Ingram’s bill would stop actions such as Pinellas County’s ordinance, passed in January 2010, that banned the use of lawn fertilizer from June to September. Lee, Leon and Brevard counties are among at least 41 counties and cities to adopt rules to limit the use of fertilizers with phosphorous and nitrogen in them, most in line with a statewide model developed by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

Phosphorous and nitrogen in fertilizers can contribute to water pollution, particularly when they’re applied incorrectly and subject to runoff during rains.

“There’s a model ordinance in place that (numerous state agencies) are comfortable with,” Ingram said. He said the model addresses environmental concerns. Local ordinances result in a patchwork of rules that is difficult for businesses to navigate. The Florida Retail Federation and Associated Industries of Florida, among other business interests, support the bill.

“You’ve got a very aggressive fertilizer industry that wants to continue to market a product that is harmful to Florida’s waterways,” said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon of Florida, which opposes the bill.

Rep. Trudi Williams, a Fort Myers Republican and chair of the House Select Committee on Water Policy, said she favors the statewide model. Local ordinances, she said, make things too complicated.

She said Sanibel in Southwest Florida passed a stringent fertilizer ordinance. That impacted Captiva Island

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.