Thursday, September 26, 2019

Eliminate the preemption to the state of the regulation of retail urban fertilizer sales!

Sierra Club Comments to Blue-Green Algae Task Force
September 24, 2019

Local governments must be allowed to protect their own watersheds.  This Task Force’s recommendations must include a recommendation to pass legislation to eliminate the preemption to the state of the regulation of retail urban fertilizer sales (F.S. §570.07 (41) (a)).  

The preemption to the state of the regulation of retail urban fertilizer sales is absolutely and directly contrary to the protection of local watersheds from nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.

There are currently thirteen counties and over eighty municipalities that have adopted or are covered by urban fertilizer ordinances that restrict the seasonal application of nitrogen and phosphorus urban fertilizers.  However, due to the 2011 preemption of control over the sale of those nitrogen and phosphorus urban fertilizers, only Pinellas County, its municipalities, and the City of Tampa have the ability to keep products which are illegal to apply in those jurisdictions off retail shelves.

This preemption:
  • Denies local governments the easiest and lowest cost method in which to enforce their urban fertilizer ordinances;
  • Gives an unfair advantage to retailers – professional fertilizer applicators are prohibited from applying/selling the restricted products to their customers;
  • Dampens the market for the multitude of ordinance-compliant products, many of which are produced by Florida-based fertilizer manufacturers;
  • Allows retailers to sell illegal-to-use products to unknowing customers;
  • Encourages unknowing customers to violate local ordinances and be subject to fines; and
  • Diminishes the source control effectiveness of the ordinances, and therefore reduces the ability of the local government to protect its own watershed and local economy.

Fining local governments for pollution events makes no sense if the state is simultaneously tying their hands when it comes to the enforcement of important stormwater pollution source control measures.

Eliminating the preemption of the regulation of retail urban fertilizer sales is an easy lift for the legislature.  The only opponents to this action would be those now benefiting from the sale of illegal-to-use products and for whom the state should have no sympathy.

Diana Umpierre, AICP
Organizing Representative
Everglades Restoration Campaign
Sierra Club
136A S. Main Street (P.O. Box 2347), Belle Glade, FL 33430
(954) 829-7632
(561) 983-8655