Saturday, October 24, 2020

BIG SUGAR, Part 3

STEPPING STONES


 

 

In Parts 1 and 2 of “Big Sugar” you were introduced to two major players of the sugar industry here in South Florida, how they came to grow and the influence, positive or negative, that they may have had on that industry and the habitat surrounding their farms. You can read these articles online on the Coastal Breeze News website (coastalbreezenews.com) in the “Stepping Stone” section.

Sugar in Florida is a $1.5 billion industry and both U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals seem to rule the roost and control about 80% of all sugar produced in our state. There is a lot of money involved here and politics can play a heavy hand regarding the successes of the bigger players. Many of the legal issues in the last 30 years revolved around the protection of the Everglades lands and waters versus the easier and less costly ways of doing business for farmers.

Thankfully, in the year 2000, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) was enacted as a 30-year plan to save this World Heritage Site, which has lost 50% of its original size to our growth and development. However, there is some controversy regarding this plan’s use.

Part of CERP requires the construction of fresh water holding areas and reservoirs that could release water into the Everglades in such a way that it imitates the natural flow that once prevailed here. Some scientists claim that this part of the project will not work to help the park but, instead, could simply enhance water supply for current farms and developments. Six years after the start of CERP these same scientists claimed that the Everglades were still too dry and starving for water.

Prior to the CERP program the Army Corps of Engineers were in charge of the area and did make some mistakes regarding the control of nutrients into Lake Okeechobee and also widening the area north of the lake which was corrected 20 years after they realized that more damage was being done than good. Not too long after CERP was initiated guess who was placed in charge of the project? The Army Corps of Engineers.

Why is there such a problem with this? Many believe that, just as the past has shown us, money and politics, contributions to decision makers and continual lobbying by Big Sugar attorneys will slow the path to correction.

Countless articles have been written about Big Sugar and their power. Social media outlets such as Facebook are constantly bombarding people with stories of the unchecked destruction of land and water by the use of nutrients and phosphates. It is no

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