Sugar Farmers Exceeding Expectations, Everglades Policy Working

    After facing calls from the Florida Audubon Society to tighten restrictions on sugar farmers and the discharge of harmful phosphorus, judge rules further changes unnecessary and state officials concur.


    By Jacob Engels


    Earlier this week, state officials released a report detailing why they believe that that the BMP’s or “Best Management Practices” are working and actually helping to reduce harmful phosphorus. The report states that harmful phosphorus is down 79% in the ecologically sensitive area.


    Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam was joined by State Representative Matt Caldwell and leadership of the South Florida Water Management District during the announcement of the findings.


    “Over the program’s 20-year compliance history, the overall average annual reduction from the implementation of BMPs is 56 percent, more than twice the required amount. “Two decades of successfully meeting and exceeding phosphorus reductions to improve Everglades water quality is a great accomplishment,” said Daniel O’Keefe, chairman of the district’s Governing Board.


    “South Florida’s agricultural communities are clearly demonstrating a long-term commitment to restoration efforts.” Putnam, a key member of the state’s four-member Cabinet, said he heartily agrees. “Farmers and ranchers throughout our state are looking toward science and data in order to protect Florida’s waterways and manage farms more efficiently, and today’s announcement shows that Best Management Practices are working,” said Putnam.


    “I thank the farmers and ranchers in the EAA for their continued commitment to being good stewards of the land.” The announcement from state officials comes on the heels of a ruling for the 2nd District Court of Appeals upholding the permit rules and best practices.


    The court expressed confidence that the corrective steps already under way as part of the state’s Everglades restoration plan will achieve mandates to decrease the amount of phosphorus in the water to 10 parts per billion. It also noted that in addition to using the highly successful best management practices, growers are paying a special agricultural tax of $25 per acre to help fund the long-term plan for restoring the Everglades.


    Representative Matt Caldwell, who represents the Lee County area in the Florida House, had this to say about the court ruling and report released by the state.


    “This historic level of reductions in phosphorus is proof positive that best management practices (BMPs) are working. It also highlights the need for BMPs to be part of any comprehensive water policy reform passed by the Florida Legislature,” said Caldwell via a statement according to Florida Politics. “Combined with the Second District Court of Appeal’s recent ruling that upheld BMPs, this has been a historic week for restoration efforts in the Florida Everglades. Florida’s farmers are making meaningful gains in water quality utilizing BMPs.


    “Under Speaker Crisafulli’s leadership, we will continue to make water policy reform a priority.”



    Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at