John Bryant Conner: Our nation’s leaders are key allies in agricultural and business success
OPINION: Florida is known to be one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Given that fact, most Floridians know tourism is the main driver of the economy in the Sunshine State. What most aren’t aware of is that agriculture is a primary reason why Florida has a top 5 GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the United States. From citrus and vegetables to sugarcane and forestry, the agriculture industry employs over 2 million people and contributes $127 billion statewide annually. All this success was negatively impacted, however, when the Obama administration and the EPA broadened the clean water regulations and banned the industry’s most widely used pesticide.

I was blessed to get my agriculture experience through my father -- one of the greatest managers of the most brilliant agriculture minds in Florida, former Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Florida Speaker of the House, Doyle E. Conner, Sr. With everything that I have worked on, and all the scenarios that I have watched play out during my father’s time, I applaud President Trump for doing the right thing for our industry. He has made it easier for great work to be done by our agriculture stakeholders. The rescission of the Waters of the United States Rule, which was a huge bureaucratic power grab to begin with, is a breath of fresh air and puts sensible control back into the hands of local farmers to maintain and use their property in a fair and reasonable way.

By reversing the previous administration's steps to ban the most widely used pesticide in the world, the Trump EPA is addressing another issue facing farmers. The Obama EPA administration never took the time to talk and listen to agriculture professionals before scheduling a ban on the pesticide, which is used by thousands of farmers. His own Science Advisory Panel had even rejected a prior effort to ban it.  The standard the Obama EPA had used to justify their ban – the same one their own science panel rejected – was the so-called “precautionary principle.”  The precautionary principle says that if you’re unsure whether something might be harmful, ban it.  This might sound like good, common sense, but in practice it could be used to justify banning just about anything.  Sound familiar?  The precautionary principle is to chemical safety what the WOTUS Rule was to land management: a justification for the federal government to interfere with people’s lives.  A smarter approach to regulation, and one I am pleased to see President Trump’s EPA returning to is asking, “Is a product safe and effective when used as intended?”

Thank you, President Trump for putting more control in the hands of the agriculture professionals who know what is best for the industry. We appreciate the reduction in regulations that tie the hands of the professionals who add hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of jobs to this great state. We look forward to continued leadership that puts the focus back on business, economy and growth. 

The growth in our economy that we've seen under the president’s time in office has not been a surprise to the agriculture industry. When the government allows entrepreneurs of all industries to think creatively, instead of looking for ways to regulate, the industry and the economy will prosper. This is especially true when it comes to farming, a business where the work is hard, and the profit margins are thin. We all know that regulations cost additional resources and take additional time, and we appreciate President Trump for giving our agriculture industry a chance to be the best our world has seen.

John Bryant Conner, a sixth-generation farmer early in his life, comes from a long line of Florida agricultural leaders. He is an entrepreneur who has successfully run his own construction company in North Florida for 30 years.

Read 603 times Last modified on Monday, 09 April 2018 12:12
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A weekly podcast focusing on the people and stories shaping Florida politics produced by Trimmel Gomes an award-winning journalist and former statewide news director of Florida Public Radio. Gomes hosted its flagship program "Capital Report" and created the public affairs program "It's About Florida." Gomes is political commentator and regular political contributor to WTXL ABC 27 in Tallahassee.


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