TALLAHASSEE -- Today (April 29), Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 88, Farming Operations, preserving Florida’s agricultural heritage and modernizing Florida’s Right to Farm Act which regulates agriculture throughout the state of Florida.
The Governor was joined at the bill signing ceremony by Florida farmers, Senate President Wilton Simpson, and bill sponsors, Senator Jason Brodeur and Representative Jayer Williamson, highlighting the strong bipartisan support of SB 88.
Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby), a lifelong farmer said, “Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature stand with Florida farmers. The State of Florida is committed to preserving Florida’s farms, which are legacy businesses that contribute to our nation’s food supply and billions of dollars to our state’s economy. We frequently update our laws to recognize changes in other industries, and today we are coming together to make it clear that our hardworking Florida farmers will not be left behind.”
Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor) said, “It was a pleasure to partner with President Simpson on his passion project to protect Florida’s agriculture industry. With his leadership, Florida’s farming land remembered will never be forgotten. The Right to Farm law recognizes the importance of the agriculture industry to Florida’s economy and putting food on our tables. It gives farmers the protections they need to do their job without fear of nuisance lawsuits. I’ve often said that you occasionally need a doctor, you sometimes need a lawyer, but you’ll always need a farmer – three times a day.”
Steve Singleton, owner of Singleton and Sons Farm located in Hastings, Florida said, “My family and I have been farming on hundreds of acres for over 30 years. We pride ourselves on our family motto: ‘Save your money, work hard, and be patient.’ Our values are focused on finding innovative ways to farm and combat the rising concern of food insecurity. Thank you, Governor DeSantis, for signing Senate Bill 88 into law. Now we can focus on work that matters for the farm and for our community. My sons will be able to continue the legacy of our family-owned operation without the threat of costly and detrimental nuisance lawsuits.”
Michael K. Brown, a fifth-generation farmer and owner/manager of Brown’s Produce Farms LLC in Quincy, Florida said, “I appreciate the Legislature and the Governor for making sure there will be a sixth generation of Browns able to farm in Gadsden County, Florida, just like the five generations before them.”
Shedrick McGriff, recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Farm Family of Jackson County, Florida said, “When it comes to farming, I have a philosophy: ‘You do your part, and let the Lord do his part.’ That’s why I do everything I can to support a successful harvest season. However, the growing threat of nuisance lawsuits can be a costly distraction from our efforts to see, grow and harvest our crop. I’m grateful to Governor Ron DeSantis for signing Senate Bill 88 into law this year. This legislation strengthens Florida’s Right to Farm, allowing us to focus on what we do best: raising peanuts, cotton, peas, corn hay and beef cows!”
Matt Griffin, Recipient of the Young Farmers & Ranchers’ 2020 Excellence in Agriculture Award and a farm manager in Lake County, Florida said, “Agriculture is one of our state’s key pillars historically and economically. The industry is constantly facing old and new challenges alike and continues to try and stand tall to those presently faced. One such challenge as we know is that of the increasing threat of nuisance and costly lawsuits. These actions could unintentionally or not undermine the foundation of one of our state’s chief economic drivers. Senate Bill 88 being signed will help to ensure the longevity of Florida agriculture and Florida’s farmers, ranchers and agriculturalists to thrive. It also helps to ensure that young professionals like myself and others can be part of an industry that has a rich legacy, but also a bright and vibrant future. I applaud and thank Governor Ron DeSantis for his support and everyone that helped make this possible.”
Senator Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture said, “This good bill balances the needs of residential development with those of critical agricultural work and agritourism activities that our legacy farms depend on. Our state has experienced tremendous growth since Florida’s Right to Farm Act was originally passed in 1979, and I am pleased to join the Governor as he signs this important update into law.”
Senator Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach), Chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus said, “This bill is about protecting the critical jobs our agricultural communities have relied on for generations. During this last very trying year of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we had no diminishment of our food supply and farmers worked very hard to help us stay healthy. We want to support our farmers and make sure they are protected from unfair lawsuits. I’m pleased that our Legislature and the Governor can join together in this important effort.”
Senator Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford), sponsor of SB 88 said, “As more and more people leave densely populated areas of the country and relocate to rural areas of our state, residential development encroaches on our rural areas. Friction between these competing land uses can lead to litigation that threatens the survival of legacy farming communities. While we are always happy to welcome more Floridians, we also have to preserve existing farms. This legislation strikes the right balance by modernizing Florida’s Right to Farm Act, and I am grateful to Governor DeSantis for signing it into law today.”
Representative Jayer Williamson (R-Pace) said, “This is a law that protects Florida farmers who are doing the right thing from nuisance lawsuits. If you are breaking environmental laws this law will not give you any safe harbor.”
Mayors Keith Babb (Pahokee), Steve Wilson (Belle Glade), and Joe Kyles, (South Bay) said, “Agriculture is the lifeblood of the Glades communities’ economies and strengthening our farmers’ ‘right to farm’ means supporting our jobs, opportunity, and access to healthcare, benefits and financial security for our families. We appreciate Governor DeSantis’ support for this critical legislation and our communities’ long-term economic health.
Janet Taylor, Glades Lives Matter, said, “Our communities depend on farming for jobs, community support, and food to feed our families. We appreciate Governor DeSantis for recognizing the farmers need to have long-term certainty so that they can continue to provide our state with jobs and food for our nation.”
Nancy Stephens, Chair, Florida Agricultural Coalition said, “On behalf of Florida’s farmers, growers and ranchers, the Florida AG Coalition thanks Governor Ron DeSantis for signing Senate Bill 88, Farming Operations. With this law in place we can preserve Florida’s natural landscape, the natural resources and wildlife that depend on it, and slow the conversion, of farm and ranch land to other nonfood producing uses, while providing long-term sustainability of our food supply,”
Lena Juarez, Executive Director, Florida Agritourism Association said, “On behalf of the members of Florida Agritourism Association, we thank Governor DeSantis for his support of SB 88, Farming Operations. Agritourism provides visitors to Florida ‘s farms and ranches a place to play and helps farmers diversify their income. Of the 47,000 farms across our state, most are small farms and agritourism adds value to every acre.”
Aaron Troyer Chair, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association said, “The Florida Fruit And Vegetable Association thanks Governor DeSantis for his support of SB 88 – Farming /Operations. The importance of agriculture to our state’s economy cannot be overstated. Along with Construction and tourism, it is one of the three primary legs keeping Florida’s economy aloft. And over the course of the past year, the importance of this industry to the state has been underscored like never before. By Signing SB 88 in law, the Governor supported our tireless farmers by helping to alleviate some of this encroachment pressure, ensuring that agriculture, an economic pillar of our state, is sustained and remains an integral component and fixture of the Florida landscape.”
Ben Bolusky, CEO, Florida Nursery, Growers, and Landscape Association said, “The Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association sincerely thanks Governor DeSantis for strengthening Florida’s Right to Farm Act by signing SB 88 into law. Given Florida’s increasing population, the potential for nuisance complaints and lawsuits from new neighbors also increases. Strengthening Florida’s Right to Farm Law helps to protect agriculture and, in so doing, helps to protect the land and its natural resources. More than 9.7 million acres of Florida are dedicated to farming which otherwise could be developed or used for more intensive purposes. Agricultural lands are critical to Floridians’ water supply, air quality, climate, wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation. By signing SB 88 into law, Governor DeSantis has strengthened farms and Florida’s long-term sustainability for many future generations.”
Alan Shelby, Executive Vice President, Florida Forestry Federation said, “The Florida Forestry Association thanks Governor DeSantis for signing legislation to strengthen Florida’s Right to Farm Act. More than 17 million acres of forests covering almost half of Florida’s land area, play an important part in the state’s environment and economy. Forests purify our water, filter our air, and provide habitat for flora and fauna. Financially, Florida Forestry helps to employ more than 124,000 Floridians and infuses $25 million into the state’s economy. More than 5,000 items are made with forest products, ranging from furniture to pharmaceuticals. Strengthening Florida’s Right to Farm law offers protection from nuisance lawsuits, enabling foresters to focus on their mission.”
John L. Hoblick President, Florida Farm Bureau Federation said, “On behalf of Florida’s farmers and ranchers, the Florida Farm Bureau Federation wants to thank Governor DeSantis for his support of Florida’s family farmers who are threatened by lawsuits and nuisance claims. Strengthening Florida’s Right to Farm law will minimize nuisance lawsuits, enabling farmers to focus on the mission of providing food and remaining in business. Across the state, more than 47, 000 farms produce the food that feeds the world and remain committed to growing the food we need survive.”
Ray Hodge, Executive Director, United Dairy Farmers of Florida said, “Florida’s 70 dairy farms are interconnected to the life of consumers, the environment and the economy. Most of our farms are family-owned, located in rural Florida areas and serve as massive economic engines for their surrounding communities. That’s why the United Dairy Farmers of Florida praises Governor DeSantis for protecting Florida’s dairy industry by strengthening the Right to Farm Act and signing this legislation into law. With this in place, we can continue to provide proper nutrition for Florida families.”