South Florida farmers hit 63% phosphorus reduction in latest SFWMD report

sugar farm field on sunset time
'With nearly 30 years of data showing significant progress, it’s clear that farmers in the EAA have done more to improve water quality in South Florida than any other private group in state history.'

Farmers within South Florida’s Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) in the last year saw phosphorus discharges at 63% below a baseline set from 1979 until 1988 under the Everglades Forever Act.

The 1994 law aimed to push those phosphorus levels down, requiring farmers to cut phosphorus by 25% from that previously established base period.

Farmers easily hit that mark in recent years. They have, on average, been 57% below the baseline on an annual basis since 1996. And the newest report from the South Florida Water Management District showed farmers once again beating that mark in Water Year 2023.

“Despite the challenges farmers face daily including storms, heat and an occasional drought, they have once again achieved remarkable results by exceeding some of the most stringent water quality standards in the country,” said Ryan Duffy, Director of Corporate Communications for U.S. Sugar.

“With nearly 30 years of data showing significant progress, it’s clear that farmers in the EAA have done more to improve water quality in South Florida than any other private group in state history.”

Phosphorus had previously been a driver of pollution in South Florida’s waterways, with nutrient-rich muck soils from the region contributing to water quality issues downstream. The 1994 Everglades Forever Act aimed to change that, and the farming community has made significant adjustments since the 1990s to bring those phosphorus levels down.

“Farmers continue to lead the way in cleaning Florida’s water while sustainably growing food for our nation,” said Ardis Hammock, spokeswoman for Florida Sugarcane Farmers. “We are so thankful to be able to remain reliable stewards of our air, water and land resources while also helping to feed millions of American families every year.”

A release from farming organizations celebrating the 2023 numbers says “EAA farmers have removed 4,537 metric tons of phosphorus in the water flowing south from their farms.” Improvements in technology have allowed farmers to meet environmental standards while maintaining or increasing output.

“Seven of the last 10 years, EAA farmers have reduced phosphorus by more than 60%,” said Camber Pope of Pope Farms. “This is terrific progress by any measure and far more clean-up success than any other projects have managed thus far.”

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


  • Earl Pitts American

    August 18, 2023 at 12:46 pm

    Good afternoon America,
    This is great enviornmental news. Now the Seirra Club along with every save the climate citizen will flock in mass like a “flock of seagulls” to vote one and all for Ron Desantis as POTUS.
    I, Earl Pitts American, will personally call all the other Republican Candidates and advise them it is in their best interest to just make up some lame @55 excuse to withdraw from the race now and throw their support behind “The Great Enviornmentalist” Ron Desantis for POTUS
    You are welcome America,
    Earl Pitts American

  • Sonja Fitch

    August 21, 2023 at 3:25 am

    Now this is proof that many of the critical climate changes can be Improved! Thank you.

Comments are closed.


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