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‘Another Nail in the Coffin’ for Agriculture

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Posted: Friday, October 12, 2018 4:00 am | Updated: 9:07 am, Fri Oct 12, 2018.

In an effort to curtail illegal dumping, Miami-Dade Commissioners propose forcing land owners to fence all unimproved lots and vacant lands, which includes all farmland.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to your farms and begin planting for this seasons crops, another proposed county ordinance has raised its ugly head threatening the very existence of the farming community.

Fencing. No, not the Olympic sport, but forced enclosure of all unimproved lots and vacant lands which includes farmland whether being used or laying fallow. The proposed reason - to curtail “illegal dumping.”

This proposed ordinance was prepared and placed on the agenda at the request of Prime Sponsor Commissioner Joe A. Martinez. What was the Commissioner thinking? Here’s what we are dealing with: An ordinance relating to illegal dumping; creating section 19-4.1.1 of the Code; requiring fencing of unimproved lots and vacant lands to prevent illegal dumping in unincorporated areas; amending section 8CC-10 providing a penalty for failure to fence unimproved lots and vacant lands.

For clarification, we contacted Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava's office. As explained, when an ordinance is proposed, there is no discussion on the first reading just a simple yea or neigh vote. Multiple proposals can be lumped together, as was this fencing ordinance. It will now go to a committee for a study and report.

Then, on November 14th at the Governmental Operations Committee meeting, in downtown Miami, this will be one of the issues discussed and voted on.

Fortunately, there is time to voice your opinion. McCrackine, from Commissioner Levine-Cava’s office had notified the Ag Practice Committee. Once public, it became the talk of the town amongst the farming community and here’s why:

1) Fencing property but leaving the right of way outside the fence will not curtail illegal dumping

2) Property owners will still be held liable and fined for others garbage left on the right of way in front of their property ($500). The opinion of the majority of Redland farmers is that dumped debris should be picked up by the county, without any fine to the landowner since it is on the county's right of way.

3) The burden of the cost of fencing will have the effect of a mini NAFTA raising production cost. This will push our farming industry further out of the market.

4) On the lower side, installed field fencing runs about $6 per linear foot. Five- foot chain link starts about $10 per foot. (Example of a 10-acre parcel fenced on 4 sides: 2,640 linear feet X $6 equals Farmers and land owners will be forced to incur the cost of fencing vast acres of farmland, such as the fields of Sam Accursio & Sons Farms, shown here in Homestead.

$15,840. Many farmers own multiple parcels of land with hundreds of acres to be fence. 5) The burden of getting a permit from the Building and Zoning Department is another major headache. 6) If passed, unfenced property owners could be fined on a daily basis.

If the County truly wants to preserve farming and green space in Miami-Dade, the Commissioners must realize that the farmer must be able to make a profit to stay in business.

South Dade's Sam Accursio & Sons, feels the ordinance is another nail in the coffin for South Dade farming. "This is insane for property owners and the taxpayers of Dade County because all public lands also have to be fenced." said Sam Accursio Jr., "For row crop farmers they make us fence at theproperty line. We are going to lose an acre on every field of production. Plus, this does nothing whatsoever to stop illegal dumping. These criminals come up, dump on the right-of-way and leave. We asked if the right-of-way can be fenced. They said, 'Oh no Mr. Accursio that's assinine.' I think the ordinance is assinine. The commissioners say they want us to stay in agriculture. Well, put a pencil to it and the cost will be unbelievable."

All concerned county residents should read this ordinance and contact the Miami-Dade Commissioners with their opinion. Below is an excerpt from the ordinance:

“The perimeter of any unimproved lot or vacant land shall be fenced in its entirety, at the expense of the property owner, such that the entire property is secured and not easily susceptible to trespassing and illegal dumping, but allowing for owner-authorized ingress and egress to accommodate maintenance of the lot to prevent the overgrowth of weeds and grass and to allow compliance with the remaining requirements of this chapter. Fencing shall be installed subject to all applicable permit requirements, including, but not limited to, those set forth in Chapter 33 of the Code, and shall include a locking gate mechanism where consistent with the fence design and permit requirements.” 


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