Senate Bill 88, Farming Operations, by State Senator Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford), was signed into law earlier today by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The bill, a priority of Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby), a lifelong farmer, expands protections available under Florida’s Right to Farm Act. Several Senators joined the Governor for the bill signing ceremony, alongside farmers from across the state who represented a number of family-owned, legacy farming operations.
“Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature stand with Florida farmers. The State of Florida is committed to preserving Florida’s farms, which are legacy businesses that contribute to our nation’s food supply and billions of dollars to our state’s economy,” said President Simpson. “We frequently update our laws to recognize changes in other industries, and today we are coming together to make it clear that our hardworking Florida farmers will not be left behind.”
“This good bill balances the needs of residential development with those of critical agricultural work and agritourism activities that our legacy farms depend on,” said Senator Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture. “Our state has experienced tremendous growth since Florida’s Right to Farm Act was originally passed in 1979, and I am pleased to join the Governor as he signs this important update into law.”
“As more and more people leave densely populated areas of the country and relocate to rural areas of our state, residential development encroaches on our rural areas. Friction between these competing land uses can lead to litigation that threatens the survival of legacy farming communities,” said Senator Brodeur. “While we are always happy to welcome more Floridians, we also have to preserve existing farms. This legislation strikes the right balance by modernizing Florida’s Right to Farm Act, and I am grateful to Governor DeSantis for signing it into law today.”
“This bill is about protecting the critical jobs our agricultural communities have relied on for generations,” said Senator Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach), Chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus. “During this last very trying year of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we had no diminishment of our food supply and farmers worked very hard to help us stay healthy. We want to support our farmers and make sure they are protected from unfair lawsuits. I’m pleased that our Legislature and the Governor can join together in this important effort.”
Florida’s Right to Farm Act was originally passed in 1979. SB 88 expands and modernizes protections currently available under the Act to protect farmers from lawsuits based on their routine farming and agricultural activities. The bill also adds agritourism to the definition of a farm operation.