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Handbook of Florida Agricultural Laws: General Agriculture-Related Laws

Michael T. Olexa and Connor Brock


This handbook is designed to provide an accurate, current, and authoritative summary of the principal Florida laws that directly or indirectly relate to agriculture. It provides a basic overview of the many rights and responsibilities that farmers and farm land owners have under Florida laws. Many readers may value this handbook because it informs them about these rights and responsibilities, and it provides them with good contacts for more detailed information. However, the reader should be aware that because the laws, administrative rulings, and court decisions on which this handbook is based are subject to constant revision, portions of this handbook could become outdated at any time. Many details of cited laws are also left out due to space limitations.

This handbook is distributed with the understanding that the authors are not engaged in rendering legal or other professional advice. It is not all-inclusive in providing information to achieve compliance with laws and regulations governing the practice of agriculture. For these reasons, the use of these materials by any person constitutes an agreement to hold harmless the authors, UF/IFAS, the Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Law, and the University of Florida for any liability claims, damages, or expenses that may be incurred by any person as a result of reference to or reliance on the information contained in this handbook.

A Brief Note on Florida Laws and Rulemaking

The Florida laws described in this handbook were passed by the state legislature and have become valid state laws. The appropriate state agency then wrote specific rules based on each law. These rules are what the state agencies use to enforce the law. For most laws in this handbook, that agency is the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS). Florida legislated laws, also called statutes, are organized into chapters. A chapter is divided even further into specific statutes. For example, Chapter 601 (Florida Citrus Code) contains dozens of sections covering topics ranging from marketing, inspection standards, and processing to prohibitions on the use of certain chemicals for citrus fruit. Other chapters may deal with a narrower subject and have far fewer sections. As noted above, the specific rules for each of these sections are written by a designated state agency, and generally go into greater detail. You can view the Florida Statutes online at


This handbook can be used to learn which Florida laws apply to a particular agricultural project or subject, and to find the name, address, and telephone number of a state office that can provide more specific information or services. Created for readers with no prior experience in the law, the handbook is designed as a necessary first step in recognizing which agricultural activities merit special attention because of their implications to agriculture. The handbook also provides an introduction to the crucial agencies and statutes which govern agricultural law.

The online handbook is divided into a Table of Contents, Index, and six fact sheets. The Table of Contents gives general and specific areas of Florida laws related to agriculture and the number of the fact sheet where that topic can be found. The six fact sheets are as follows: FE114, General Agriculture-Related Laws; FE115, Animal Husbandry; FE116, Crops and Products; FE117, Related Non-Crop or Product Agricultural Topics; FE118, Environmental and Conservation Regulations; and FE119, Taxation and Property Rights Related to Agricultural Land. The user can find the specific laws by using either the Table of Contents (FE113) or the Index (FE122).

Below is an example of using the handbook if your area of interest is farming exotic animals such as ostriches.

To use the Table of Contents to find the topic:

  1. Find "Animal Husbandry" in the Table of Contents (FE113).
  2. Within the Animal Husbandry area locate "Livestock—Exotic Animals" and follow the link to FE115 (Animal Husbandry).
  3. In FE115, read the "General Descriptions" and "Related References, Details, and Exceptions" columns for both laws under "Livestock—Exotic Animals" to determine if the information answers the questions or if more information is needed.
  4. If the user wants more information regarding the general farming or inspection and slaughter of an exotic animal (e.g., ostriches), locate the appropriate state office telephone number and address. The primary contact agency information is listed at the end of the fact sheet, along with abbreviation information.

To use the Index to find the topic:

  1. Look up "ostriches" in the Index (FE122). The index leads the reader to the location for information about the culture and inspection/slaughter of ostriches.
  2. Follow steps 3 and 4 above to find the contact information.

Division of the Tables

The table in each fact sheet has five columns of information. The first column, "Statute / Law (description)," either provides the law's name or a general description when no name is available. The second column, "Florida Statute Number", lists either a chapter number (when an entire chapter relates to a particular topic), a range of sections, or a single specific section. At times, a single chapter number may have many more laws than a range. For example, sections 593.101 to 593.117 cover a narrower field, the control of cotton boll weevil, than does the larger Chapter 601 on citrus fruit. The chapter and section number in all columns are presented without the typical abbreviations or symbols.

Columns 3 and 4 provide brief descriptions and related references, details, and exceptions. This information is highly condensed. As such, not all information is provided. The authors have attempted to include the most relevant aspects of each listed law. Additional information can be obtained by contacting the offices noted in the final column, "Primary Contact Agencies." As noted above, the primary contact information is listed at the end of the fact sheet. The reader will find that the state and federal agencies are unquestionably the best targets for specific questions, as they are in close touch with both the formal and practical considerations of the areas that they regulate.

This publication can be improved with your ideas and suggestions. Comments regarding any areas which may have been omitted, but deserve inclusion, are particularly valuable. Reader feedback is a necessary ingredient to complete any successful future editions. Please send your comments or suggestions to:

Michael T. Olexa
Director, Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Law
UF/IFAS Food and Resource Economics Department
Post Office Box 110240
Gainesville, FL 32611-0240


The authors are indebted to the personnel of both state and federal agencies who gave of their time and advice in the preparation of this handbook. The authors are also indebted to the O.R. and Shirley Minton and the James S. and Dorothy F. Wershow Endowments for funding assistance in the development of this handbook, and Andra Johnson, Ph.D., dean and professor, Office of Dean for Extension and the Florida Cooperative Extension Service. 

Table 1. 

Florida agricultural laws: General agriculture-related laws.

Statute / Law (description)

Florida Statute


General Description

Related References, Details,

and Exceptions

Primary Contact Agencies

Florida Right to Farm Act


Protects reasonable agricultural activities conducted on farmland from nuisance suits. A farm that was not a nuisance when it was established is not subject to public or private nuisance suits after one year of operation.

Exceptions to this protection include unsanitary conditions, improper treatment of wastes, keeping animals that may give rise to diseases harmful to human or animal health, and expansion of operations when adjacent to an existing homestead or business. Also, this law does not protect a farmer from lawsuits due to negligent acts, such as groundwater contamination or pesticide misapplication. "Farm product" means any plant (as defined in 581.011) or animal or insect useful to humans and includes, but is not limited to, any product derived therefrom. With few exceptions, the Act limits the authority of local governments to adopt any ordinance, regulation, rule, or policy to prohibit, restrict, regulate, or limit an activity of a bona fide farm operation on agricultural land as long as the activity is regulated through implemented best management practices or interim measures.


Produce Labeling Act of 1979

504.011 –


Defines how growers, producers, or shippers may mark and label fresh fruits, vegetables, bee pollen, and honey to indicate to a purchaser that the product was produced in the state of Florida. Also requires that prior to delivery in Florida, imported fruits, vegetables, bee pollen, and honey must be marked to indicate their country of origin.

 Are we to include the penalties listed in 504.013?


Law prohibiting disparagement of any perishable food product


Prohibits providing false information to the public stating that a perishable food product is unsafe for human consumption. A court may assess punitive damages against someone who makes a statement intending to harm producers of perishable products.

Applies to aquacultural and agricultural perishable foods grown or produced within the state of Florida. 865.02 makes falsely shipping foreign-grown fruit as Florida-grown fruit punishable by a second degree misdemeanor. The statute of limitations for disparagement of perishable agricultural food products is 2 years from the date the disparagement occurs.


Agricultural license plates


Establishes a specialty Florida license plate for agriculture, with "Agriculture" at the top and "Keeps Florida Green" written at the bottom.

Funds obtained from this specialty license plate must be forwarded to the direct-support organization created pursuant to s. 570.691, and must be used to fund and promote the Florida Agriculture in the Classroom Program established within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services pursuant to s. 570.693.


Law regarding DACS right of access, and agricultural inspection stations


DACS has a right to inspect any building, vehicle, vehicle trailer, or vessel, and documents pertaining thereto, used in agriculture and may get a search warrant for regulatory inspection under this section and ss. 933.20-933.30. Requires DACS to establish rules authorizing certain nonagricultural motor vehicles to pass agricultural inspection stations without stopping and submitting to inspection.

S. 570.051 makes it unlawful to impersonate an inspector, agent, or other DACS employee and provides for penalties.


Law creating the Florida Food Safety & Food Security Advisory Council


This council is intended to serve as a forum for presenting, investigating, and evaluating issues concerning food safety. The statute provides for who will serve on the council.



Table 2. 

Contact agencies.


Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS)

Office of the Commissioner

Plaza Level 10, The Capitol

400 South Monroe Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0800

(800) 435-7352 [voice, toll-free, Florida residents]

(850) 410-3800 [voice, non-Florida residents]

Also Available in: Español

Publication #FE114

Release Date:May 31, 2022

Related Experts

Olexa, Michael T.


University of Florida

Fact Sheet

About this Publication

This document is FE114, one of a series of the Food and Resource Economics Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1999. Revised April 2004, December 2007, June 2014, August 2018, and May 2022. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Michael T. Olexa, professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, director, Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Law, and member, The Florida Bar; and Connor Brock, student, University of Florida Levin College of Law; UF/IFAS Extension Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Michael Olexa