Barney Rutzke, Vice Presdient of the Dade County Farm Bureau and the Chairman of the Farm Bureau’s Environmental Policy Concerns Committee, is hoping to receive support from not only Dade County farmers, but all citizens who support the agriculture community. In essence, showing your support to maintain the historic fabric of South Dade, rich in farmland and green spaces, with generations of farm families continuing the tradition of feeding America.

Rutzke states “Recently, the Miami-Dade Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) drafted an Interim Guidance for Former Agricultural Sites in Miami-Dade County. This Interim Guidance unfairly targets agricultural lands, assumes without evidence that they are polluted, and imposes on them heavy-handed environmental testing protocols. If approved, this would put the burden of expensive and excessive soil testing, permits, monitoring well requirements, etc., on the land owner as well as devalue the land. This rule would affect ALL Agricultural land in Miami-Dade County, regardless of size. To make matters worse, DERM developed the Interim Guidance without the input of the agricultural community and the landowners it affects. As a result, the current draft creates an unnecessary burden on owners of current and former agricultural lands that is duplicative and expensive, but provides little or no additional benefit to the health and safety of the public and the environment.”

A pdf link to an opposition letter template is available for download at:

Send comments to Wilbur Mayorga -

by Monday, November 16th, 2020.

For additional information, contact Dade County Farm Bureau.

Facts Regarding Farm Bureau’s DERM Opposition

1) The Purpose of this is to oppose a DERM Interim Site Assessment Guidance on Former Agricultural Sites in Miami-Dade County. This arbitrary and self-imposed document suggests that all Ag Land in Miami-Dade Co. is contaminated, but does not provide historical background or justification on such.

2) If approved, Miami-Dade County would have a higher compliance level requirement on soil contamination than The Florida DEP and US EPA do.

3) Additional research needs to be done to scientifically prove why land in Miami-Dade Co. should be subject to stricter contamination requirements than both the FL DEP and US EPA propose. What is the reasoning for this? Especially if it has been found that virgin land in the Everglades would not meet the criteria. Therefore, if natural, uninhabited land would not meet the criteria, how can private land owners be expected to do so?

4) If approved, this would put the burden of expensive and excessive soil testing, permits, monitoring well requirements, etc., on the land owner. Essentially this would be a hefty permit fee.

5) This rule is being pushed without taking Miami-Dade County’s unique soil types into account.

6) This rule was not discussed with or provided to the Agriculture Community for their input- the actual land holders. However, it was discussed with the developmental community, bankers and rock mining companies.

7) This rule would affect ALL Agricultural land, regardless of size. For example, individuals looking to build 1 home on a 5 acre piece of property, but plan to keep the parcel primarily Ag related, would be subject to this new rule.

8) This devalues agricultural land, it will make it harder to get financing to purchase agricultural land and/or reduce your negotiating ability if you decide to sell it. Additionally, it would hurt the land owner if they were looking to get a loan or line of credit.

9) DERM has had landowners do this type of testing before, but the exact requirements were not in writing. If what is being proposed is passed, it will make it official and will become a requirement County wide.

10) The proposed requirements have led to misinterpretations and misinformation being put out to the growing community. For example, a farmer who is leasing land has been told by the property owner that he cannot use iron in his production.

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