The Phosphate Industry has been in Florida for more than one hundred years. Since its discovery by Captain J. Francis LeBaron in 1881, phosphate has been an essential part of Florida’s economy and has helped Florida’s farmers put food on the table. Before then, farmers struggled and relied on bone meal to help grow crops. Phosphate was then — and still is — an innovative game-changer on farms across Florida and the world.
- In Florida, phosphate was first discovered in Alachua County. Over the years additional phosphate deposits have been found in Polk, Hillsborough, Manatee, DeSoto, and Hardee counties.
What can phosphate be used for?
Phosphate is to peanut butter, as agriculture is to jelly. Simply put, the agriculture industry would harvest less food without this essential ingredient. Phosphate products help farmers grow more crops on fewer acres.
Phosphate manufacturing creates a normal byproduct known as phosphogypsum (PG). 28 million tons of “PG” is produced each year, and federal regulations require it to be stored in gypstacks. Scientists have discovered 55 different ways to beneficially use “PG” although current federal regulations limit its use to certain agricultural uses and scientific research.
- More than 20 countries around the world recycle “PG” to build infrastructure like roads and bridges – all while supporting a cleaner environment.
Phosphate is good for the economy
Without phosphate production in Florida, farmers would still need it but would have to get it from international competitors like Russia – raising prices at the grocery store. Thankfully, America has a strong, domestic supply — sourced right here in the Sunshine State. The industry supports almost 13,000 Florida jobs and accounts for more than $5 billion in annual economic impact.
- Phosphate shipments contribute to over half of the Port of Tampa Bay’s overall activities.
Bottom Line: farmers need it, Florida has it. By embracing innovation, we can recycle its normal byproduct “PG” to benefit the environment and the economy.