Senate bill would expand role of agriculture in water supply planning
By Bruce Ritchie
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services would have an expanded role on par with utilities in regional water supply planning under a Senate bill filed Monday.
SB 948 was filed amid concerns about billionaire Frank Stronach's recent purchase of 12,000 acres in Taylor County to raise beef cattle, as reported in the Perry News Herald.
Stronach's Adena Springs Ranch in Marion County, with its initial permit request in 2012 to use 13.2 million gallons of water per day, has been a rallying cry among environmentalists who say springs need protection from groundwater over-pumping.
State agriculture officials says the industry, with $100 billion in sales and 1 million jobs it provides across Florida, needs assurance that water will be available. SB 948 is a priority for Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, said Rich Budell, director of the Office of Agricultural Water Policy at the agriculture department.