Who Owns the Land in the EAA…SLR/IRL, Part 1
Today we start learning about land owners inside the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) as listed on the above map; some will own land within Joe Negron’s proposed circles for land acquisition, and some will not. In any case, we should know them all.
#1 United States Sugar Corporation, “Old Granddaddy”
When talking about United States Sugar Corporation, (USSC), we must remember that we are talking about “Granddaddy,” the oldest of the sugar producers of the EAA. Granddaddy is listed on the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council’s map as owning 140,451 acres of EAA land. I have colored the #1s in with a purple crayon to get a better idea of how these lands line up with Joe Negron’s circles. This non-tech approach I’m sure has my brother Todd cringing, but for me, a former 8th grade teacher, it works! Mind you it is just a “guestamation.” 🙂
Perusing the #1s I’ve colored in, we see vast land holdings. USSC has a long history in Florida, rising from the ashes of the failed Southern Sugar Company of Clewiston of the late 1920s to their Godlike political and production influence today. USSC owns some of the “muckiest of the muckland” closest to the lake, as they were there first. They own the most black gold….
How did they rise to such power?
It was auto industry legend Charles Stewart Mott’s applied business principles and a twist of fate in the American political climate that lifted USSC to its tremendous status. Let’s review…
Mr Lawrence Will, well-known historian for people like my mother wrote in his 1968 book, “Swamp to Sugar Bowl:”
“…although Southern Sugar Company owned some 100,000 acres of the best land around the lake, under U.S. government regulations, the state of Florida was permitted to produce only nine tenth of the one percent of the nations needs. However, when Fidel Castro took over Cuba the Everglades reaped the benefit. For a short time our government permitted the unrestricted planting of sugar cane. Oh Brother, you should have seen how cow pastures and vegetable fields were plowed up and planted! Now we have 189,500 acres of sugar cane in the Glades.
By the 1980s USSC became a leading sugar producer in the United States as they are today. The key here is the effect on our waterways due to the politics of the Cuban Revolution.
Jumping ahead to 2007/8, an unprecedented opportunity was presented: Granddaddy offered a full buy out. USSC was on the table. Incredible! But not everyone liked then Governor Charlie Christ nor did the legislature appreciate him taking the situation into his “own” hands…nor did all trust US Sugar. The state had been implementing CERP since 2000. Now this giant opportunity was a gift but a wrench as well. Environmentalists were excited but wary. Politicians took sides. Other sugar companies fumed.Tempers flared. Blame. Intrigue. Posturing…Sound familiar?
Anyway, by the time the Great Recession bit down on the nation full force in 2010, a smaller land purchase had been negotiated by the SFWMD, and the drama of Florida politics and sugar was playing out. The land sale was but a shadow of its former self for Everglades Restoration and USSC left an option on the table through 2020 just in case there’s ever money in system again.
So …Granddaddy is still in control. But before we leave him, let’s remember this:
One of the unintended consequences of the proposed 2008 USSC “failure” we forget to talk about (sometimes in the excitement of hoping one day USSC will willing want to see their lands again,) was the halting of “more than a dozen projects already under way in 2008.
…among them (was) a massive reservoir in western Palm Beach County that was seen as a major step toward restoration of the Everglades.” (New York Times.) This reservoir would have alleviated discharges to the estuaries. This would have been a reservoir similar to the one we wish to create now.
Yes, the A-1 Reservoir, as it was known, was hit on two sides: halted for the USSC land purchase, and it also collided with yet another water issue, a law suit with the federal government over water quality standards, RESTORATION STRATEGIES. This one was guided to a close by then new Governor Rick Scott.
Thus the A-1 Reservoir became a shallow rather than a deep water reservoir. She never came into her full glory…
In in any case, the deep water reservoir needs to be back at the top of the list. Maybe if he’s in a good mood this year, Granddaddy can help her out. 🙂 Let’s be sweet and see what happens…becasue nothing will happen with out Granddaddy….
Restoration Strategies, State of Florida http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20protecting%20and%20restoring/restoration%20strategies
Palm Beach History On-Line:(http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/charles-stewart-mott)
Money in Politics over the years, US Sugar Corp. (USSC PAC):
USSC website: http://www.ussugar.com
USSC website History: http://www.ussugar.com/history/
Charles Steward Mott, Paternalism: https://books.google.com/books?id=L61EXdbA0tMC&pg=PA122&lpg=PA122&dq=paternalism+mott&source=bl&ots=QicMQ4XVTZ&sig=lLjrrQibXcZ5AOc_L_X9i1IfYFk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwir79Cc27TPAhXM5yYKHe0lDdIQ6AEIJDAC#v=onepage&q=paternalism%20mott&f=false
CERP 2000, today:http://126.96.36.199/pm/projects/project_list.aspx
Tampa Bay Times US Sugar Leaving 2008 :http://www.tampabay.com/features/clewiston-the-town-that-sugar-built/644408
New York Times, USSC sell off: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/13/us/13everglades.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FUnited%20States%20Sugar%20Corporation&action=click&contentCollection=business®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection&_r=0
New York Times Everglades and USSC Selloff: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/08/us/08everglades.html?action=click&contentCollection=U.S.&module=RelatedCoverage®ion=Marginalia&pgtype=article