Issue Brief: Local politics matter

March 19, 2018 -  By

In my line of work, I attend a lot of hearings—state legislatures, city councils, county commissions and everything in between. Recently, I traveled to Florida where a county commission was deciding whether to impose fertilizer application blackout dates during much of the growing season.

The science is on our side; the judicious use of fertilizer on turfgrass is a net benefit to the environment, and if you follow published best management practices, virtually none of the fertilizer you apply will escape to ground or surface waters.

Testifying at the county commission hearing, we had plenty of people on our side, such as scientists, manufacturers, lawyers and industry advocates like me. We did an excellent job laying out a solid case that responsible use of fertilizers is the way to go. On the other side were local residents who wouldn’t know St. Augustinegrass from a palm tree. Their arguments were entirely emotional—utterly at odds with what the science tells us.

Guess who won? The local residents. We live in an age where facts don’t matter, as counterintuitive as that might be. In that hearing room, everyone from the green industry who testified was from someplace else. No local companies testified.

As I drove back to the airport, I was struck by the number of lawn fertilizer trucks I passed. Each one of those companies had just been dealt a huge blow, and not one of them was in the county commission hearing room to defend themselves.

You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you. This type of activism is coming to your town, too. Be vigilant, and be prepared to defend your right to do business.

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About the Author:

Bob Mann, LIC, formerly the agronomist for Lawn Dawg, is the director of state and local government relations for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

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