Tag Archives: USSC

Everglades Agricultural Area Land Ownership, The Few That Do…, SLR/IRL

“Who Owns the Land in the EAA? Mapping Out Florida’s Water Future.”

Today I will complete 1-10 listed on the  Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council’s map of Everglades Agricultural Area land ownership. As I did not go into the great detail as I did with 1-7 previously, I have included informational links to 8-10.

My husband, Ed, told me my multi-colored map showing land ownership was getting confusing with parts 1-7, so I have tried to simplify and re-color code it below. This hand-made map is by no means perfect and certainly has errors, but gives an idea.

What have we learned in the past seven posts? Well it appears the Fanjul Family owns at least 2, 3, 7, 8 and 9 on the map and U.S. Sugar Corporation owns 1 and 6. #4 is King Ranch; #5 is Wedgworth Farms. They are independent. #10, New Farm Inc., was not listed on Sunbiz, but I did find it listed in law suit regarding contamination of lands from 1985. I will try to learn what is the status of these lands, and if I am missing something.

Below you will find each corporation 1-10 linked to SUNBIZ listing officers and the 1985 law suit of New Farms Inc. As you go through the links you will start to recognize some of the names. Through recognizing the names you will see who owns what and the connections.

Names aside, it is clear that most of the 700,000 acres in the EAA is owned by only a handful of corporations and powerful families…

This entire series was started because of Senate President Elect, Joe Negron’s proposal for land purchase to store, clean and convey waters south the Everglades (the circles on bottom image). This controversial subject will come up during the 2017 legislative session. Land ownership will be important information to have on hand. Purchasing lands in the EAA is not a far-fetched idea. A third outlet south of the lake and moving water south is the only way to truly alleviate the destruction of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. We must advocate for this goal!

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TCRPC EAA map
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color coded map of landownership JTL

1. United States Sugar Corporation (USSC): http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=UNITEDSTATESSUGAR%208038790&aggregateId=forp-803879-06bef4db-0feb-469e-ba23-3f2147d91a1f&searchTerm=united%20states%20sugar&listNameOrder=UNITEDSTATESSUGAR%208038790

2. Okeelanta: http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=OKEELANTA%20P043840&aggregateId=forp-p04384-ee043bd3-b794-4ca2-ae09-211c05e3ec48&searchTerm=okeelanta&listNameOrder=OKEELANTA%200065250

3. New Hope Sugar Co.: http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=NEWHOPESUGAR%202486740&aggregateId=domp-248674-74190f46-1014-4027-89fb-78bffb22106a&searchTerm=new%20hope%20sugar%20corp&listNameOrder=NEWHOPESUGAR%202486740

4. King Ranch Inc.: http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=KINGRANCH%20F130000028730&aggregateId=forp-f13000002873-07eb1012-40df-444b-9bb1-1b35c2f43a67&searchTerm=king%20ranch&listNameOrder=KINGRANCH%208183400

5. Wedgeworth Farms Inc.: http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=WEDGWORTHFARMS%201862360&aggregateId=domp-186236-65082899-6949-4338-be01-cf89b105e43b&searchTerm=wedgworth%20farms%20inc&listNameOrder=WEDGWORTHFARMS%201862360

6. SBG Farms Inc. : http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=SBGFARMS%206834482&aggregateId=domp-683448-93ceb6fc-2d8d-4267-90ca-bfd54e7816bf&searchTerm=SBG%20farms&listNameOrder=SBGFARMS%206834482

7. Stofin Farms Inc. :
http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=STOFIN%201856420&aggregateId=domp-185642-9100e283-b064-4a5f-8083-da9865fd09e3&searchTerm=stofin%20&listNameOrder=STOFIN%201856420

8.Closter Farms Inc. : http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=CLOSTERFARMS%202508760&aggregateId=domp-250876-79fb7957-038f-4096-a343-495fa054c721&searchTerm=closter%20farms&listNameOrder=CLOSTERFARMS%202508760

Sun Sentinel Article: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1986-01-08/news/8601020253_1_pahokee-farms-everglades-agricultural-area-bidder

9. Sugar Cane Growers:
http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=SUGARCANEGROWERSCOOPERATIVEFLO%207908250&aggregateId=domnp-790825-cddfd255-2b6a-40f1-9b5c-a1662cd054bb&searchTerm=sugar%20cane%20growers%20ass&listNameOrder=SUGARCANEGROWERSCOOPERATIVEFLO%207908250

(Website: http://www.scgc.org) It appears that George Wedgeworth founded the Sugar Cane Co-op in the 50s but it is associated with the Fanjuls today.
(http://www.asr-group.com/about-us/our-owners/)
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_Cane_Growers_Cooperative_of_Florida)

10. New Farms (Not active on Sunbiz)
1985 SFWMD Law suit: http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F3/84/402/568666/

*10/25/16 addition: Thank you to reader Bob Washam who sent me the following link after reading my post whose officers show New Farm Inc to be a Fanjul property as well: (Jacqui here is a possible link to the officers of New Farm, Inc.

http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=NEWFARM%20F393840&aggregateId=domp-f39384-e8cc8894-5dd0-436a-922b-8f2b597397d2&searchTerm=new%20farm&listNameOrder=NEWFARM%20F393840)

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Senator Joe Negron’s land acquisition map 2016

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanjul_brothers#Various_business_holdings_and_ventures

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Posted 10-27-16 after blog reader and friend, Bob Washam, sent in the Sunbiz info for New Farms Inc. that shows this too is a Fanjul property. JTL

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“Old Granddaddy,” United States Sugar Corporation-Who Owns the Land in the EAA…SLR/IRL

Who Owns the Land in the EAA…SLR/IRL, Part 1

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US Sugar Corp. Clewiston, Fl 2013, JTL

 

file-page1-2Today 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.” 🙂

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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….

General Collection
General Collection Florida Memory, Clewiston  ca.1929.

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.

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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.

Exhausting.

where option?
After the SFWMD killed the EAA US Sugar Lands option, where do we go from here? (Map Everglades Foundation, River of Grass 2008.)

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….

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A-1 Reservoir SFWMD 2006: https://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/pg_grp_sfwmd_wrac/portlet_wrac_archive_reportsdocs/tab772049/wrac_090606_eaa_waldeck.pdf

Restoration Strategies, State of Florida http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20protecting%20and%20restoring/restoration%20strategies

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“What is on the horizon out there ?”

Palm Beach History On-Line:(http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/charles-stewart-mott)

Money in Politics over the years, US Sugar Corp. (USSC PAC):
(https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?cycle=2016&strID=C00234120)

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://141.232.10.32/pm/projects/project_list.aspx

Tampa Bay Times US Sugar Leaving 2008 :http://www.tampabay.com/features/clewiston-the-town-that-sugar-built/644408
http://ufdcimages.uflib.ufl.edu/IR/00/00/37/82/00001/FE75400.pdf

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&region=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&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

Cinnamon Toast and the Indian River Lagoon

The Ship and the Oak Tree
The Ship and the Oak Tree (Photo JTL)

In the late 1960s, one of the best things about Christmas, was that old Christmas trees reinforced our fort under the old oak tree, we pretended was a ship, along the St Lucie River.  I remember going to my neighbors, the Schramm’s house, with all their brothers and sisters, to have cinnamon sugar toast for breakfast around this time of year.

Mrs Schramm’s cinnamon toast was like nothing I had ever had: butter, sugar and cinnamon on Wonder Bread toast. Delicious! Little did I know, that one day I would be criticizing  the sugar industry for not doing enough to help us save the Indian River Lagoon.

Recently, I have been reading the book, Raising Cane in the Glades,  The Global Sugar Trade and the Transformation of Florida, by Florida International University professor, Gail M. Hollander. http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/R/bo5704198.html

The book is credited as the first “to study the environmental transformation of the Everglades within the economic and historical geography of global sugar production and trade.” It is an “environmental history,” a discipline that is becoming more studied and written about: how we as humans effect change in our environment.

The book’s history is amazing and so far the story that has hit me the most is one about Mr Bohr Dahlberg who in the late 1920s owned Southern Sugar Company  before it went into “receivership” and was purchased by Stewart Mott who created the United States Sugar Corporation. http://www.ussugar.com/downloads/ussc-history.pdf

Although Mr Dahlberg’s  company went broke by 1928, the year of the great hurricane, he managed to break the Democratic hold on the “South” and form relationships with Republicans across the country for the benefit of the sugar industry in South Florida by supporting the successful presidential campaign of Herbert Hoover. Mr Hoover was a man who came to the support of those who had supported him, and it is he who authorized the building of the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee, to protect the sugar industry’s lands and the labor. The dike was completed in 1933 and changed forever the fate of the Everglades, the St Lucie River, and the Caloosahatchee River.

The politics of this book will make your jaw drop. Expressions such as: structure of the world system, national and global importance for presidents, national interest and world unrest, supposed and real issues of national security, using drainage and navigation to nationally fund the Okeechobee Flood District, the Army Corp of Engineers, the  Cross State Canal that opened up the major draining of Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

All of this happened thirty years before I ate that cinnamon toast at the Schramms; there are fifty more years of politics that have come into play since then!  The whole thing is rather daunting, but whether a kid, or a 50 year old today, I think the Sugar Industry owes the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon something, after all we take their drainage and I ate all that toast as a kid.