MIAMI — After months of speculation and planning on the part of Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist, a scaled back deal was finally reached Monday to help restore Florida’s Everglades. The agreement between U.S. Sugar and the State of Florida would keep the company’s basic operations intact for at least a decade.
The proposal, reduced from a previous plan to buy up all of U.S. Sugar, would leave open the possibility of preserving the 1,700 jobs the company provides to the residents of Clewiston.
The new stripped-down plan is to sell 181,000 acres of farmland to the state, but allow the company to keep its processing plants and other production facilities. Under the proposal, the company would continue to farm most of the land for the next seven crop-cycles in a lease agreement with the state. The South Florida Water Management District would takeover 10,000 acres of the land at the onset of the proposal, and then some 30,000 more acres after seven years
If the lease agreement is extended, much of the land could remain farmland for at least another decade.
Environmentalists are asking for more, saying that sugar production releases some 100 pounds of phosphorous per year per acre into Florida’s waters. Earlier this year, a federal court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency had failed to protect the waters of the Everglades.
Still, the new deal is a sigh-of-relief for the residents of Clewiston. A region whose unemployment rate is well above the national average at 14 percent.
Read more here.
Source : New York Times
Circle of Blue’s east coast correspondent based in New York. He specializes on water conflict and the water-food-energy nexus. He previously worked as a political risk analyst covering equatorial Africa’s energy sector, and sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa. Contact: Cody.Pope@circleofblue.org