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The Florida Statutes

The 2022 Florida Statutes

Title XXXV
AGRICULTURE, HORTICULTURE, AND ANIMAL INDUSTRY
Chapter 576
AGRICULTURAL FERTILIZERS
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F.S. 576.045
576.045 Nitrogen and phosphorus; findings and intent; fees; purpose; best management practices; waiver of liability; compliance; rules; exclusions; expiration.
(1) FINDINGS AND INTENT.
(a) The Legislature finds that:
1. Nitrogen and phosphorus residues have been found in groundwater, surface water, and drinking water in various areas throughout this state at levels in excess of established water quality standards. The Legislature further finds that some fertilization-management practices could be a source of such contamination.
2. Nutrient application rate recommendations are presently under review by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences so that they can reflect the latest methods of producing agricultural commodities and changes to nutrient application practices which are appropriate due to disease, new crop varieties, changes in United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service standards, growing techniques, and market conditions.
3. To gain efficiency and be able to compete successfully with foreign producers that benefit from lower costs of production and favorable trade conditions, many producers in this state grow more product per acre, resulting in higher production at lower overall costs. This high-efficiency crop production requires nutrient application to be based on the intensity of production on a per-acre basis, rather than the lower per-acre production on which past research based its recommended nutrient application rate.
4. Florida citrus faces challenges that include citrus greening, citrus canker, windstorms, a freeze in 2022 that resulted in the smallest citrus harvest since 1946, labor and supply chain shortages in 2022, and other events that result in the fruit not being harvested. In order to continue production of this state’s iconic crop, nutrient application rates must reflect fruit grown on the tree after the bloom during the growing season and not fruit ultimately harvested for market delivery.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to:
1. Improve fertilization-management practices as soon as practicable in a way that protects this state’s water resources and preserves a viable agricultural industry. This goal is to be accomplished through research concerning best management practices and education and incentives for the agricultural industry and other major users of fertilizer.
2. Accommodate continued citrus production without interruption as research to formally revise nutrient application rates is completed.
3. Authorize the use of site-specific nutrient management for Florida citrus to adjust recommended nutrient application rates when site-specific nutrient management is supported by written recommendations from a certified professional and documented using production and field data that is retained for review during the best management practices implementation verification process.
(2) FEES.
(a) In addition to the fees imposed under ss. 576.021 and 576.041, the following supplemental fees shall be collected and paid by licensees for the sole purpose of implementing this section:
1. One hundred dollars for each license to distribute fertilizer.
2. One hundred dollars for each specialty fertilizer registration.
3. Fifty cents per ton for all fertilizer that contains nitrogen or phosphorus and that is sold in this state.
(b) All fees paid to the department under this section are due and payable at the same time and in the same manner as the fees specified in ss. 576.021 and 576.041 and are subject to all provisions contained in those sections.
(c) All fees paid under this section must be deposited into the General Inspection Trust Fund and are exempt from s. 215.20. These funds are to be appropriated annually to the department and allocated according to a memorandum of understanding between the department and the Department of Environmental Protection. The allocation of indirect costs to these funds by any state agency is specifically prohibited.
(3) USE OF FUNDS.The funds collected pursuant to subsection (2) must be used by the department for:
(a) Research, development, demonstration, and implementation of suitable interim measures, best management practices, or other measures used to achieve state water quality standards for nitrogen and phosphorus criteria, including site-specific nutrient management. Implementation of interim measures, best management practices, and other measures may include cost-sharing grants, technical assistance, implementation tracking, and conservation leases or other agreements for water quality improvement.
(b) Completing the analysis, research plan and recommendations, and report required under paragraph (4)(b).
(c) Approving, adopting, publishing, and distributing interim measures, best management practices, or other measures. In the process of developing, approving, and adopting interim measures, best management practices, or other measures, the department shall consult with the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Health, the water management districts, environmental groups, the fertilizer industry, and representatives from the affected farming groups.
(d) Reimbursing the Department of Environmental Protection for costs incurred which are associated with:
1. Monitoring and verifying the effectiveness of the interim measures, best management practices, or other measures approved and adopted under subsection (7) at representative sites. The Department of Environmental Protection shall use its best professional judgment in making the initial determination of the effectiveness of the interim measures, best management practices, or other measures.
2. Sampling, analysis, and restoration of potable water supplies, pursuant to s. 376.307, found to contain levels of nitrate in excess of state water quality standards, which excess is determined to be the result of the application of fertilizers or other soil-applied nutritional materials containing nitrogen.

This subsection must be implemented through a memorandum of understanding between the department and the Department of Environmental Protection.

(4) SITE-SPECIFIC NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT.
(a) The use of site-specific nutrient management to tailor recommended nutrient application rates is authorized for citrus crops where site-specific nutrient management is supported by a certified professional.
1. When recommended nutrient application rates published by the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida or other state universities and Florida College System institutions that have agricultural research programs are not appropriate for a specific producer due to soil conditions, disease, crop varieties, subsequent crop rotations, planting density, market requirements, or site-specific conditions, written recommendations from a certified professional may be used to tailor the recommended nutrient application rates for that producer. The determination that the published nutrient application rates are not appropriate and the recommendation for the tailoring of nutrient application rates must be documented with one or more of the following records, as appropriate: soil tests, plant tissue tests, pathology reports, yield response curves, growth records, or site-specific conditions, together with records specifying the application rate, the types or forms of nutrients used, the nutrient sources used, and the placement and timing of the nutrient sources. A producer must retain the records for 5 years to support the use of site-specific nutrient management.
2. Citrus producers using site-specific nutrient management must be enrolled in and implementing all other best management practices adopted by the department and identified in the enrolled notice of intent required under subsections (5) and (6) and s. 403.067(7)(c).
3. Notwithstanding any other law, citrus producers implementing site-specific nutrient management in compliance with this section are provided a presumption of compliance with state water quality standards, may rely on the waiver of liability in subsection (5), and may be deemed to be in compliance with s. 403.067(7)(c) and subsections (5) and (6).
(b) The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences shall analyze the use of site-specific nutrient management for crops other than citrus and crop rotations, develop a research plan and interim recommendations for implementation of site-specific nutrient management, and submit an annual report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by June 30 of each year, beginning in 2023.
(5) WAIVER OF LIABILITY.Notwithstanding any other law, the Department of Environmental Protection may not institute proceedings against any person or the Federal Government under s. 376.307(5) to recover any costs or damages associated with nitrogen or phosphorus contamination of groundwater or surface water, or the evaluation, assessment, or remediation of such contamination of groundwater or surface water, including sampling, analysis, and restoration of potable water supplies, where the contamination of groundwater or surface water is determined to be the result of the application of fertilizers or other soil-applied nutritional materials containing nitrogen or phosphorus, provided the property owner or leaseholder:
(a)1. Provides the department with a notice of intent to implement applicable interim measures, best management practices, or other measures adopted by the department which have been verified by the Department of Environmental Protection to be effective; and
2. Implements applicable interim measures, best management practices, or other measures as soon as practicable according to rules adopted by the department or no longer applies fertilizers or other soil-applied nutritional materials containing nitrogen or phosphorus; or
(b) No longer applies fertilizers or other soil-applied nutritional materials containing nitrogen or phosphorus.
(6) COMPLIANCE.If the property owner or leaseholder implements interim measures, best management practices, or other measures adopted by the department which have been verified by the Department of Environmental Protection to be effective, and complies with the following, there is a presumption of compliance with state water quality standards for such criteria under this section and s. 403.067(7)(c) with respect to the application of fertilizers or other soil-applied nutritional materials containing nitrogen or phosphorus:
(a)1. Provides the department with a notice of intent to implement applicable interim measures, best management practices, or other measures adopted by the department; and
2. Implements applicable interim measures, best management practices, or other measures as soon as practicable according to rules adopted by the department or no longer applies fertilizers or other soil-applied nutritional materials containing nitrogen or phosphorus; or
(b) No longer applies fertilizers or other soil-applied nutritional materials containing nitrogen or phosphorus.
(7) RULEMAKING.The department, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Health, the water management districts, environmental groups, the fertilizer industry, and representatives from the affected farming groups, shall adopt rules to:
(a) Specify the requirements of interim measures, best management practices, or other measures to be implemented by property owners and leaseholders.
(b) Establish procedures for property owners and leaseholders to submit the notice of intent to implement and comply with interim measures, best management practices, or other measures.
(c) Establish schedules for implementation of interim measures, best management practices, or other measures.
(d) Establish a system to assure the implementation of best management practices, including recordkeeping requirements.
(8) OTHER PROVISIONS.
(a) This section does not limit the authority of the Department of Environmental Protection to regulate discharges associated with the commercial feeding of livestock and poultry defined in chapter 585, including that of dairy farm and egg production operations, or the disposal of sludge, residuals, or septage. This paragraph does not grant additional authority to regulate these discharges.
(b) This section does not limit federally delegated regulatory authority.
(c) The Department of Environmental Protection may adopt rules to establish criteria for dairy farms which provide reasonable assurance that state nitrate groundwater quality standards will not be violated and which, provided such criteria are met, shall prohibit the Department of Environmental Protection from instituting proceedings against any dairy farmer under s. 376.307(5) and shall provide a presumption of compliance with safe nitrate groundwater quality standards.
(d) This section, except for subsection (2), does not apply to the manufacture, mixing, or blending of fertilizer, including fertilizer containing sludge, residuals, or septage.
1(9) EXPIRATION OF PROVISIONS.Subsection (4) expires on June 30, 2026. Subsections (1), (2), (3), (5), and (7) expire on 2December 31, 2032. Subsections (6) and (8) expire on December 31, 2037.
History.s. 8, ch. 94-311; s. 255, ch. 99-8; s. 77, ch. 2000-158; s. 36, ch. 2001-63; s. 1, ch. 2003-147; s. 42, ch. 2009-66; s. 26, ch. 2012-190; ss. 61, 99, ch. 2022-157; s. 2, ch. 2022-177.
1Note.Section 61, ch. 2022-157, amended subsection (8), renumbered as subsection (9) by s. 2, ch. 2022-177, “[i]n order to implement Specific Appropriations 1472 through 1481 of the 2022-2023 General Appropriations Act.”
2Note.As amended by s. 2, ch. 2022-177. The amendment by s. 61, ch. 2022-157, the appropriations implementing act, amended the date to read “December 31, 2023.”