Compromise offered by Rep. Jeff Brandes on statewide fertilizer bill

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Following several weeks of discussion surrounding a statewide fertilizer rule, lawmakers on Thursday reached a common ground with a new amendment offering both retail-friendly guidelines and a locally-controlled rulemaking process. Filed by Rep. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg), the amendment to HB 457, sponsored by Rep. Clay Ingram (R-Pensacola) and Rep. Bryan Nelson (R-Apopka), would protect statewide commerce and keep intact all pre-existing local fertilizer rules. Additionally, other municipalities can continue adopting additional regulations under the condition they properly report their rules to state.

?t the foundation of this bill is the critical need to provide Florida with the best tools possible to protect water quality and the economy, while ensuring the best available science is involved in every step of the process to vet those tools and regulations,?said Rep. Ingram. ?he state model ordinance certainly can stand on its own as a strong and effective statewide rule, but this new amendment provides municipalities with the state oversight needed to craft local fertilizer rules. I?e had an open mind and an open door policy when speaking to all stakeholders. I believe this a sound compromise which makes the bill stronger and offers a new level of accountability that is lacking in current fertilizer laws.?/span>

As amended, HB 457 provides the following guidelines as related to residential fertilizer regulations:

  • Ensures Retail-Friendly Guidelines: Protects statewide commerce by setting parameters of future local regulations to exclude sales bans
  • Grandfather Clause: Any city or county which has adopted localized rules would be able to keep those regulations fully intact; this includes all sales bans, blackout periods and slow release criteria regulations which have previously been enacted at the local level
  • Municipality Reporting: The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) will have the exclusive authority to regulate the sale and content of Florida-licensed and legally-sold fertilizer; requires future local rules to be reported to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
  • Additional Accountability & Statutory Clarification: Local governments must demonstrate proposed localized regulations are based on sound science and meet criteria established by the Urban Fertilizer Use Task Force for water quality protections; clarifies the intent of current statutory requirements for adopting rules beyond the model ordinance and ensures state-supported science is the ultimate deciding factor
  • Enforces Current Law & Immediate Water Quality Protections: As amended, the legislation will guarantee immediate water protection by requiring all localities with impaired waterways to uphold current law and adopt the state model fertilizer ordinance or any additional rules; localized rules would be required to undergo a complete vetting process by the state

Cities and counties who choose to follow the current state model ordinance would be protected by homeowner fertilizer use guidelines which were crafted by the legislature-appointed Urban Fertilizer Use Task Force in 2007. This includes prohibiting the application of fertilizer before a heavy rain, maintaining a ten-foot buffer zone between a fertilized-area and any water bodies and deflector shield requirements.

?e heard the concerns of local governments loud and clear. This amendment upholds localities?right to build their own rules, as stated in current Florida statutes, as long as they are properly researched and fact-checked with the state,?said Rep. Brandes. ?he amended HB 457 now stands to encourage all Florida cities and counties to look to the model ordinance as a guide for their local regulations while also ensuring a local option is in place if additional fertilizer rules are needed. This legislation was never a vessel for deregulation, but was meant to serve as a remedy to minimize the confusion surrounding patchwork fertilizer sales regulations. As it was presented today, this legislation addresses the concerns of all stakeholders and is a step forward for Florida? water quality initiatives.?

Additionally, HB 457 would allow DACS the exclusive authority to regulate the sale and composition of fertilizer and offers an added layer of accountability to the local fertilizer rulemaking process. The exclusion of sales bans helps retailers create a uniform method for distribution.

?s amended, this legislation provides consumer choice protections as well as prevents the burdensome red tape which impaired Florida? retailers ability to continuously adapt to changing local sales rules,?said Sally West, Director of Governmental Affairs for the Florida Retail Federation. ?his provides the uniform fertilizer sales rule we have continuously supported and creates a leveled playing field for retailers across the majority of the state.? for more information.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.