FLORIDAGRICULTURE JUNE 2010 : Page 1
www.FloridAgriculture.org • Volume 70, No. 6, June 2010 • www.FloridaFarmBureau.org
From The President
Amendment 4 threatens our future<br /> <br /> LAST MONTH FLORIDA Farm Bureau members began putting signs on land adjacent to major highways urging Floridians to “Vote NO on 4,” part of a campaign to defeat a deeply flawed amendment that threatens Florida.<br /> <br /> Amendment 4, which will appear on the ballot in November, would require voters to approve every change to their local government’s comprehensive plan.<br /> <br /> Ballots would be festooned with hundreds of summaries of technical and frequently complex issues.<br /> <br /> These are matters we currently pay experts to study and expect our elected officials – with appropriate input from the public – to act on.<br /> <br /> In the coming months, Florida Farm Bureau will be following a mandate from our state board of directors to mobilize Farm Bureau members to make sure this over-reaching, unnecessary and potentially catastrophic amendment fails to garner the 60 percent “yes” vote required to pass it.<br /> <br /> Should Amendment 4 become law, hundreds of jobs that have faded away in today’s economy will be permanently lost. New businesses won’t move to Florida. Existing businesses won’t grow. Agriculture producers like nursery and sod producers, whose businesses track the building industry, will see their markets permanently curtailed.<br /> <br /> In my opinion, working families and Florida farmers will suffer the most and the land values that constitute the wealth of many farm and ranch families will decline.<br /> <br /> Picture this scenario. Joe Landowner wants to change the use of a piece of land. Currently, he would seek the approval of his local commission.<br /> <br /> Should the change of use require a change in the local comprehensive plan, the commission would have to act with the approval of the state Department of Community Affairs.<br /> <br /> Then the action would be subject to a local referendum.<br /> <br /> Voters would have to approve it, along with every other proposed change to the comp plan.<br /> <br /> That would mean the landowner would probably need to finance an expensive political campaign to support his plan.<br /> <br /> Subjecting the process to the political system would mean sound bites would replace sound planning.<br /> <br /> Legal opinions vary, but some respected attorneys believe Amendment 4 would also require voter approval of gardenvariety zoning changes.<br /> <br /> Presumably, local governments would accumulate proposed changes over a given year and place them on the general election ballot. Certainly, a ballot with hundreds of issues would be expensive to administer. But it could be worse.<br /> <br /> There may be occasions when local officials deem a special election should be called. The Florida Supreme Court has stated that, while the full financial impacts on local government cannot be accurately predicted, passage of Amendment 4 would burden already-strapped local governments with increased election costs.<br /> <br /> Elections are expensive. Recently, the city of Gainesville spent more than $6 per voter on its runoff election for mayor.<br /> <br /> Now is the time for Farm Bureau members to engage in the “No on 4” campaign. County Farm Bureaus are gearing up to sound the alert at the local level.<br /> <br /> Members are displaying signs on their properties, slapping bumper stickers on their vehicles and talking to their neighbors about this threat.<br /> <br /> Check future editions of FloridAgriculture for updates on the campaign. Let’s put the full might of Farm Bureau into this fight. The issue will affect our members directly and we will work toward a victory for common sense and economic sustainability.<br /> <br /> P. S. – Congratulations to our state legislative team. Florida Farm Bureau and our allies in the Legislature managed to pass many of our legislative priorities during the session.<br /> <br /> Bills that passed addressed motor vehicle weight limits, food safety, drivers and vehicle registration fees, water quality and many more. See the “Tallahassee Report” on Page 7 for more coverage of the 2010 session.