Steven Byers of Bee Healthy Honey Farms in Delray Beach tends his hives. Photo by Bruce Bennett

Stealing bees from a commercial beekeeper could result, as of Oct. 1, in a $10,000 fine. Above, Steven Byers of Bee Healthy Honey Farms in Delray Beach tends his hives. / Florida Food & Farm file photo

Florida Gov. Rick Scott had a busy March 21 — signing into law two agriculture-related bills that were among 38 he OK’d that day.

HB 155: “State Symbols”

House Bill 155, titled “State Symbols, “abrogates scheduled repeal of state saltwater reptile and state horse designations; and designates Florida Cracker Cattle as the official state heritage cattle breed.”


Florida Cracker Cattle officially become the “official state heritage cattle breed” on July 1. / Courtesy Florida Cracker Cattle Association

The bill unanimously passed both the Florida House of Representatives (115-0) and the Senate (35-0).

The bill designates the loggerhead turtle as the “official Florida state saltwater reptile.” In addition, HB 155 designates the Florida Cracker Horse (Marshtackie) as the “official Florida state horse.”

HB 155, which becomes law on July 1, also says that the Florida Cracker Cattle is “the official state heritage cattle breed.”

The designations of “official Florida state horse” and “official Florida state saltwater reptile” were established in 2008 but set to expire this year unless the “sunset” provision was eliminated.

HB 491: “Theft”

HB 491, simply titled “Theft,” contains a variety of non-ag-related provisions. But the bill, which passed both houses of the Florida Legislature unanimously, also has two ag-related provisions.

First, the bill “increases the fine for theft of a commercially farmed animal or bee colony of a registered beekeeper” from $5,000 to $10,000, and it raises the offense to “grand theft of the third degree and a felony of the third degree.”

Second, under the new law, which takes effect Oct. 1, “Any amount of citrus fruit consisting of 2,000 or more individual pieces of fruit” becomes a “grand theft of the third degree and a felony of the third degree.”