Senate Approves Creation of Division of Food, Nutrition
The Senate approved a House bill, HB 7021, Friday that addresses various issues relating to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, includiung creating a Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness within the department, extending the deadline for the fertilizer tonnage-fee program from the end of 2022 to Dec. 31, 2027, and renaming “Wounded Warrior Special Hunt Areas” in state forests as “Operation Outdoor Freedom Special Hunt Areas.”
State economists estimate the impact of the changes on state and local governments to be “insignificant.”
The new nutrition division would handle the school breakfast and lunch programs that the state has taken over from the U.S. Department of Education under the guidance of Agriculture Commission Adam Putnam.
Among the other changes, the bill:
-- Designates the department as the staff responsible for acquiring and administering conservation easements on state lands.
-- Allows water hyacinths produced by certified aquaculture producers to be exported to domestic, as well as foreign, markets.
-- Clarifies that the department has sole responsibility for enforcing laws, regulations, rules or policies relating to broadcast burning or agricultural or forest pile burning.
-- Specifies that members of committees, boards, councils, working groups, task forces or any other advisory bodies created within the department or by the department are not entitled to per diem or travel expenses.
-- Extends the due date from Sept. 15 to Sept. 30 for mosquito-control districts to provide their certified budgets to the department.
-- Authorizes the department to adopt by reference the current revision of the federal model food code when applicable.
-- Repeals the pilot program relating to the inspection of food establishments.
-- Repeals provisions relating to the milk-fat testing program within the department.
-- Changes the name of the Office of Energy and Water to the Office of Agricultural Water Policy.
-- Repeals language establishing the Plant Industry Technical Council, the Aquaculture Interagency Coordinating Council and the Florida Agricultural Exposition.
-- Repeals the Fertilizer Technical Council, the Commercial Feed Technical Council and the Seed Technical Council and creates the Agricultural Feed, Seed and Fertilizer Advisory Council.
-- Requires companies distributing feed in the state to report the number of tons distributed to the department on a quarterly basis, specifies penalties for failure to comply, and specifies that consumers who purchase commercial feed in violation of department standards may seek legal or administrative action to recover penalties. If the identity of the consumer cannot be ascertained, the registrant of the commercial feed must reimburse the department.
-- Allows soil and water conservation districts to work within the district’s boundaries, territories within another district’s boundaries subject to the other district’s approval, or territories not contained within any district’s boundaries to maximize the utilization of water conservation devices, systems, and techniques[ reduces the membership of the Soil and Water Conservation Council from 23 members to 7 members; and directs that the proceeds of the sale of soil and water conservation district property be credited to the district rather than the department.
-- Provides that, upon dissolution of a Soil and Water Conservation District, the district’s assets and liabilities are transferred to the local general-purpose government.
-- Repeals provisions relating to whole-herd and calf vaccination for brucellosis.
-- Waives the annual registration fee for elementary, middle, high school or vocational schools that participate in the aquaculture certification program.
-- Requires a review of marketing orders when requested by an advisory council rather than an annual audit by a certified public accountant.
-- Authorizes the commissioner of agriculture to act as trustee on bonds posted with the United States Department of Agriculture in compliance with the Packers and Stockyards Act.