Escambia Soil And Water Board Could Be Doomed By Bill Approved By Legislature, Member Says

March 13, 2022

A bill approved by the Florida Legislature  could doom the Escambia County Soil and Water Conservation District board, and that concerns at least one member of the board.

The legislation requires candidates for the volunteer elected seats to either be actively engaged in agriculture or retired after at least 10 years in agriculture, employed by an agricultural producer, or own or lease agricultural land.

The bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Travis Hutson, who first proposed abolishing the boards altogether. It has been approved by the

The districts across the state, according to the state law that established them, are meant to “provide assistance, guidance, and education to landowners, land occupiers, the agricultural industry, and the general public in implementing land and water resource protection practices. The Legislature intends for soil and water conservation districts to work in conjunction with federal, state, and local agencies in all matters.”

Escambia Soil and Water Conservation District board member Anne Bennett is hoping the governor does not sign the bill.

“These boards work on storm water runoff, erosion, sedimentation, surface water quality. They help prioritize repairs on natural areas after big storm events countywide. They work with the US government on Census of government and finances; with the US Department of Agricultural to oversee programs, monies and to help prioritize projects and policies. They work cooperatively with many Florida agencies particularly, the Department of Agriculture. They work with non-profits, youth groups and schools.”

The Escambia Soil and Water Board receives no compensation or reimbursements, and they do not have any taxing or regulating authority, she said.

“Soil and Water boards cost nothing to taxpayers while providing community wide services to maintain quality of life, land and waterscapes,” Bennett added.

Bennett said some board districts will be left with no eligible candidate, and there will be no representation for non-agricultural concerns.

“Under this bill, a person without a high school diploma that’s been picking strawberries for the last 10 years would be able to serve on the board as opposed to a scientist from the University of Florida IFAS,” Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil, a central Florida Democrat, told Florida Politics. “We should all believe that Floridians should have the freedom to be healthy, prosperous and safe, which includes having clean drinking water.”

Pictured: A North Escambia field in June 2021. photo, click to enlarge.


14 Responses to “Escambia Soil And Water Board Could Be Doomed By Bill Approved By Legislature, Member Says”

  1. dubz on March 15th, 2022 2:14 pm

    Yeah abolish every govt agency, What could go wrong? [insert eye roll here]

  2. Dave Coleson on March 15th, 2022 9:46 am

    This legislation is spot on. Many of the know it all, degree holding people, haven’t worked a day in my field. Just because you went to college for 4 years, doesn’t mean you know much.

    Remember, these same “college graduates” were taught by a professor who likely hasn’t worked a day in their life outside in the field.

    This will directly benefit people of color who are in agriculture and a certain segment of the left is scared straight. Want to politicize this? Then let’s talk about how it will directly benefit people of color.

    Any takers?

  3. Good on March 15th, 2022 12:08 am

    I always support abolishing as many government boards, commissions and agencies as possible.

  4. Y'all are smart on March 14th, 2022 8:05 pm

    And this doesn’t cost taxpayers anything, but DeSantis & Florida Republicans had to politicize it and screw it up.

    As usual.

  5. Y'all are smart on March 14th, 2022 8:02 pm

    So happy that you all believe an uneducated strawberry picker is more qualified to speak to runoff, erosion, and soil health than someone who has training in the field just because they’ve been picking strawberries for 10 years.


  6. judy on March 14th, 2022 8:16 am

    I have met many “unschooled” people who work on farms that know a lot more than people who have a college degree! Farm experience goes a lot further than “school taught”. Experience is a far better instructor than a professor who has been “trained” in school!

  7. David on March 14th, 2022 6:28 am

    I really dont think they are discrediting the strawberry picker but they are more concerned with who doesn’t qualify who should ALSO qualify along with the strawberry picker. The theme in this article is about their concerns with who won’t qualify. Both candidates in the example can bring something to the table.

  8. Reader Of Words, Lover Of Strawberries on March 13th, 2022 1:34 pm

    “First the article says the bill requires candidates to have certain engagements in agriculture then at the bottom says a strawberry picker without a high school education would qualify.”

    It also says “employed by an agricultural producer”. A strawberry picker would be actively engaged in agriculture and “employed by an agricultural producer”. Double qualified.

  9. Denny on March 13th, 2022 1:28 pm

    The representative used a bad analogy. The new law considers its customer base, which is good, but the board still needs people with specific training in water and land resource protection to address all of the board’s responsibilities. As described above, this bill eliminates volunteers that have that training. Farm workers are understandably more concerned about good crops than fertilizer runoff and water quality (as evidenced by the dead zone in the gulf) which are board concerns.

  10. Taree Huggers on March 13th, 2022 9:12 am

    First the article says the bill requires candidates to have certain engagements in agriculture then at the bottom says a strawberry picker without a high school education would qualify.

  11. William in Beulah on March 13th, 2022 8:15 am

    In my personal experience with many college graduates over the past 30 yrs, the Highschool dropout will be able to tell you more about a farms production and performance than 99% of college graduates with Ag degrees.

  12. Derek on March 13th, 2022 7:40 am

    God forbid a person with Just a high school education be allowed on the board…. REALLY??? The audacity of these people thinking they are somehow the elite and plain old people with a high school education are dumb. (Spoken by a typical South Florida Democrat) Well guess what, some of the smartest people I know did not go to college on mommy and daddy’s dime!

  13. SW on March 13th, 2022 7:21 am

    Well, you had me until that last paragraph.
    Cut ‘em loose.

  14. mnon on March 13th, 2022 5:34 am

    Wow way to discredit a person! Sincerely… I promise you that person picking strawberries for a decade knows more than some “scientist” fresh out of college. Just because you are book smart doesn’t mean you know practical applications like “the strawberry picker” you callously dismissed.