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Rick Scott signs Ag Department changes into law

Florida said hello to its new official state honey – tupelo, of course – when Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill to make myriad tweaks to the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on Wednesday.

House Bill 7007, which originated in the House sponsored by Rep. Jake Raburn and the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee, is an omnibus package that makes more than a dozen changes to state law regarding the Ag Department.

Besides elevating tupelo honey to the level of official state symbol the bill makes these changes, according legislative staff analysis:

  • Deletes a pest control operator certificate issuance fee and application late charge;
  • Adds dietary supplements to the list of possibly adulterated foods;
  • Adds allergen information labeling requirements to the list of possibly misbranded foods;
  • Preempts to DACS the regulation of the use or sale of polystyrene products by entities regulated by the Florida Food Safety Act;
  • Authorizes DACS to sponsor “events” (not just breakfasts, luncheons, or dinners) to promote agriculture and agricultural business products;
  • Authorizes DACS to use money deposited in the Pest Control Trust Fund to carry out any of the powers of the Division of Agricultural Environmental Services; and
  • Removes the requirement that DACS notify a property owner that a plant infested or infected with plant pests or noxious weeds has been found on their property if the plant is infested with pests or noxious weeds that are determined to be widely established in Florida, among other sundry changes.

The bill was revised during the closing days of the 2016 Session at the behest of Sen. Chris Smith, who’s leaving the Senate this year and running for a seat on the Broward County Commission.

Smith made a presentation in favor of renaming the state-backed Pompano State Farmers Markets for Edward L. Myrick, who in part started the market back in 1939.

Written By

Ryan Ray covers politics and public policy in North Florida and across the state. He has also worked as a legislative researcher and political campaign staffer. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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