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Sunday, October 22 2017 @ 01:33 PM EDT

Bitter, Not Sweet

SWFL Green Living

In November of 2014, Floridians went to the polls and nearly 75% of Florida's registered voters made Amendment One - Florida's Water and Land Conservation Initiative a law. The wording of Amendment 1 states; "Funds the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to acquire, restore, improve, and manage conservation lands including wetlands and forests; fish and wildlife habitat; lands protecting water resources and drinking water sources, including the Everglades, and the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams; beaches and shores; outdoor recreational lands; working farms and ranches; and historic or geologic sites, by dedicating 33 percent of net revenues from the existing excise tax on documents for 20 years."

In light of the successful passage of that amendment, it might seem that the future protection of Florida's natural resources was a foregone conclusion. So, why is there so much controversy surrounding Florida's sugar industry? Clearly, it is because Big Sugar has mounted an attempt to have Florida's legislators do nothing and let the binding contract's term simply expire. Never has an agribusiness giant ever been so bold in their attempts to put profits ahead of people. Sadly, given the high level of corruption within the Florida legislature, so far, they're winning!


 


The business of sugar production is hundreds of years old. As well as can be established, Papua, New Guinea was the first known producer of sugarcane.The spread of cultivation and manufacture of cane sugar to the West Indies and tropical parts of the Americas began in the 16th century. Processed sugar is an ingredient within so many of today's foods that amazingly few people seem to realize our nation's obvious addiction to the sweet stuff. Given the magnitude of the problem, it should be evident that producing sugar is beyond big business, it is nearly an institution within our culture! Because so much of Florida's real estate is devoted to the production of sugar, holding Big Sugar accountable to Florida's citizens for responsible stewardship of the lands they occupy seems understandable.

But, in all fairness, the issue of land and water conservation is nothing new to Floridians. Starting back in 1963, when Florida's tourism industry was just starting to really grow, the Florida legislature created the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. It's purpose was to fund the Outdoor Recreation and Conservation Program, which was created to purchase land for parks and recreation areas. Since 2010, when Big Sugar agreed to the land acquisition, they have spent an inordinate amount of time and money promoting the purchase agreement as an act which "..fulfills a valid and extremely important public purpose in providing land for water storage and treatment to benefit the Everglades ecosystem and the coastal estuaries." However, it's all just song and dance!

According to numerous, verified and reliable sources, nearly 20 hunting trip to the King Ranch in Texas were paid for by Big Sugar and provided to members of Florida's legislature starting with Rick Scott, Florida's Governor, Adam Putnam, Florida's Agriculture Commissioner and other various members of the Florida legislature. ALL of whom made feeble attempts to cover up their involvement in what has repeatedly been termed Florida's 'pay-to-play' political landscape. If the real cost of not holding Big Sugar to their contract wasn't continued pollution and destruction of Florida's lakes, rivers, estuaries and beach fronts, then no one would be concerned..but THAT IS THE COST!

Sadly, Florida's governor seems incapable of ever winning favor given his approach to politics. Rick Scott has shown a clear disregard for Florida's future, her citizens, their health care as well as a clear profit motive where positioning himself is concerned. 'Clueless' is a word that begins to describe a Governor who wasn't invited to be a part of our President's visit to the Everglades, yet had the audacity to email the President trying to justify his inaction on Amendment 1 by pointing out Florida's other related issues and inaction on the federal government's part regarding those.

 

Sources

History of Sugar - Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_sugar

Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, Amendment 1 - BALLOTPEDIA -http://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Water_and_Land_Conservation_Initiative,_Amendment_1_(2014)  

What is Agribusiness? - U.S. Sugar Corporation -http://www.ussugar.com/company/agribusiness.html  

Ray Judah - "Big Sugar's big flip-flop" - Special to the Tampa Tribune  - 03-23-15





 
 

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