Governor DeSantis Signs DERM Bill

June 2022 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

HB 909 clarifies that the Secretary of Environmental Protection has exclusive jurisdiction in setting standards for evaluating environmental conditions and assessing potential liability for the presence of contaminants on land that is classified as agricultural, and is being converted to a nonagricultural use. This legislation was approved by Governor DeSantis on May 18, 2022 and becomes effective July 1, 2022.

House Bill 909, sponsored by Rep. Bobby Payne and Sen. Ben Albritton, prevents local governments from forcing unnecessary additional site assessments simply because agricultural chemicals have been applied on the property. Recently, the Miami-Dade County Division of Environmental Resource Management (DERM) enacted a guidance that essentially presumes that all current or former agricultural lands are contaminated because they may have had agricultural chemicals applied to them. This guidance would force any current or former agricultural land that would be going through a land use change to receive a phase 2 site assessment.

These assessments are costly, time consuming and unnecessary unless customary assessments show the need for them. This requirement goes far beyond the current requirements and customary assessments in other parts of the state. Dade County Farm Bureau worked to oppose this guidance at the local level.

Florida Farm Bureau Federation believes in the validity of the federal registration process for agricultural chemicals as well as the legal requirement to adhere to labeling restrictions. When used in accordance to the law, agricultural chemicals are safe and in no way should create a presumption that agricultural lands are contaminated.