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FDACS OAWP Rule 5M-1 January 2018

Here is an important regulatory update if you are a commercial agricultrual producer.

Attention farmers and ranchers. We want to give you a heads-up about a recent rule associated with the Florida Agricultural Best Management Practices Program (BMPs) that was written by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Office of Water Policy (OAWP), and was passed by the legislature. Implementation Verification Rule 5M-1 provides regulatory assurance to FDACS and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that BMPs designed to meet watershed restoration goals are being implemented by Florida farmers and ranchers.

DEP has tested waterbodies throughout the state and has designated many of them to be impaired below state standards. To improve water quality in these systems, DEP, along with many stakeholders, has established Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPS) statewide.

To address these impairments DEP and stakeholders are implementing strategies to reach BMAP nutrient or bacteria reduction goals. As part of these strategies, regulatory agencies are utilizing environmental permitting to meet their goals while other entities, including counties and local governments that contribute non-point sources of pollution to waterbodies, use other methods to accomplish BMAP objectives. Agriculture is using FDACS-Adopted BMPs to meet water quality goals.

Florida Agriculture BMPs have been extensively used statewide for about two decades. Farmers and ranchers throughout the state have signed Notices of Intent (NOIs) to Implement BMP’s with FDACS OAWP and are presumed to be in compliance with state water quality regulations. However, best practices and technology change over time and DEP needs assurance that farmers are still implementing the applicable practices on their NOIs. Because of this, FDACS OAWP developed the Implementation Verification Rule 5M-1.

This rule states that FDACS will verify the BMP Implementation status of agriculture by using self-verification and site visits by staff along with information gathered from other agencies and property appraisers. The information gathered by FDACS is confidential and exempt from public records disclosure.

FDACS OAWP will begin sending self-verification e-mails and letters to producers beginning in January 2018. It is important that you fill out and return the questionnaire. If you have any questions or issues with filling out the forms, please do not hesitate to call your Extension Agent for help with any production questions. You may also call a UF/IFAS BMP Implementation Team member or FDACS OAWP staff for any other questions.

-Jemy West Hinton, UF/IFAS BMP Program