March 29, 2017

Statement from the Florida Conservation Group on The Rural and Family Lands Protection Program and Florida Forever Funding

Florida’s agricultural landowners are dismayed at the lack of support by the legislature for Florida’s land conservation programs. The House has not included funding for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program (RFLPP) or funding for Florida Forever land protection projects in their proposed budget. The Senate has proposed zero funding for RFLPP and only 15 Million for Florida Forever land protection projects. The Florida Conservation Group represents well over a million acres of private lands from north to south Florida. As landowners invested in agriculture and the conservation of our great state, we fully support funding these conservation easement programs. The Rural and Family Lands Protection Program and conservation easements under Florida Forever are crucial for Florida’s future. We are calling on legislators and our governor to fund these programs. We are asking for $100 million for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program and $100 Million for Florida Forever; this is a sound investment for the health of our state.

Florida has always been a national leader in land protection. Conservation easements are the most economically efficient way to protect our natural resources. Our natural and agricultural landscape is disappearing at a rapid pace; the time to support these programs is now. We trust our state leaders will make economic and environmentally sound decisions and fund both of these nationally recognized programs this year.

The protection of natural and agricultural lands is necessary for Florida’s economy and healthy communities. We spend over $10 billion to fund the Department of Transportation each year, and we can certainly spend $200 million to protect our land and water resources. These programs are needed to protect our state’s water supply and quality, clean air, habitat and wildlife and maintain the agriculture that is a critical part of our state economy. Land protection isn’t a luxury; it is vital to Florida’s future. Landowners across the state look forward to working with the Florida Legislature and Governor Scott to ensure the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program and Florida Forever are funded.

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