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Florida farmers have been working to protect the environment for decades

I share Lizette Alvarez’s nostalgia for the Florida we knew decades ago, as she described in her Jan. 26 op-ed, “Florida waters choke on Big Ag.” Florida’s water resources — saltwater and freshwater — are plagued with challenges. Ms. Alvarez is right about that. But she was wrong to point the finger at agriculture.

Florida’s farmers, growers and ranchers are among the most — if not the most — progressive in the nation when it comes to protecting and restoring the environment. For more than 20 years, Florida farmers have been using best management practices to mitigate their impact on the environment and reduce nutrient runoff. Best management practices are based on sound science and have proved effective at protecting Florida’s water resources.

Best management practices implemented in the Everglades Agricultural Area perform better than required by law. Farmers have prevented more than 3,000 metric tons of phosphorus from entering the Everglades, and the landowners have covered 100 percent of the cost.

A 2020 Florida law directs farmers to more effectively manage fertilizer, animal waste and other nutrients to reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment. The law also requires farmers to report nutrient application, and the Florida agriculture community, including the Florida Farm Bureau Federation, supported the legislation.

It seems as though environmental activists want to eliminate Florida agriculture. But their mission would do more harm than good. Wiping out Florida agriculture would force American families to turn to more foreign sources for their food.

Jeb. S. Smith, Gainesville, Fla.

The writer is president of the Florida Farm Bureau Federation and a farmer.

To read the full article in The Washington Post, click here.


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