My position on Land Availability
We must find a balance between conserving our rural, agricultural lands and meeting the continued development needs of a growing and dynamic state. Ranches, farms and other low-density land uses are an important part of Florida’s past, present and future. As a lifelong farmer, I recognize the value in preserving these treasured lands.
I am a proponent of Florida’s Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, which provides landowners the opportunity to sell development rights to the state while maintaining their ability to continue farming the property. This initiative has allowed farmers to continue running their family businesses while reducing the pressure of corporate development groups on our rural landowners. As your next Agriculture Commissioner, I will ensure this important preservation program remains a priority of our administration.
Less-than-fee simple programs – which maintain private land ownership while compensating the landowner for the placement of a conservation easement on the property – haven’t been adequately funded in recent years. I look forward to working with the Legislature to ensure these programs have the funding they need to be sustainable long-term. Florida struggles to adequately manage the land it has already purchased, so we must look for solutions that encourage private land ownership while simultaneously pursuing conservation goals. It’s the best way to manage our natural resources while also keeping our rural cultural fabric intact.
I also support Florida Forever, the state’s conservation and recreation lands acquisition program. With our state’s population projected to increase by more than 5 million people during the next decade or so, it’s never been more important that we strike and maintain the right balance between conservation and development. If we don’t, generations of Floridians after us will suffer the consequences.