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U.S. Sugar facts?

By Staff | May 11, 2016

To the editor:

I just read Judy Sanchez’s Guest Opinion in the May 4, 2016, Pine Island Eagle and I have a few comments.

She says that the U.S. Sugar Farmers, and others in the EAA, have played a significant role in ensuring that water leaving their farms is cleaner than when it enters. I note that she does not produce any scientific data to support that. It could be that the water entering is very dirty, and the water leaving is not quite so dirty. She has a standing invitation to come to St. James City and taste (not drink) the water in the local canals and Pine Island Sound. If it is good, clean sea water then it should only taste salty.

She states that the phosphorous levels have been reduced over the past two decades. Hmmm. It makes me wonder if the phosphorous mining rate has declined. Also, the past two decades have been some of the driest years in South Florida in recent history. Hmmmm.

I wonder about the 215,000 acres that she cites as providing a nurturing protected habitat … As I understand it, there are over 400,000 acres under sugar production. If U.S. Sugar is such a good steward of the environment, then why are so many environmental groups concerned over the lack of clean fresh water in the Everglades, and concerned over the loss of wildlife populations? Can that many groups all be wrong?

I wonder if the “more than $400 million in restoring and preserving …” is really the amount spent on making sure the sugar fields do not flood in the rainy season. Right now the solution to preventing that sort of flooding is to pump the water into Lake Okeechobee – and guess where the excess water goes …? Originally, neither river was a natural connection to Lake Okeechobee; the connections were made by man.

As I understand it, the 27,000 acres sold to the South Florida Water Management District (all Board Members appointed by our Governor) is a mere pittance of what is being requested to be purchased with the Amendment 1 funds approved by 75 percent of Florida voters two years ago. The South Florida Water Management District often is the only organization that opposes many local attempts to correct local water polluting occurrences.

As a closing comment, I wonder if it is time to send the sugar cane growing business back to Cuba. This would solve many concerns over the sugar growing negative affects on South Florida environment. In addition, it would provide jobs to many Cubans who desperately need it. If it were to happen, perhaps it would help push Cuba off Socialism and toward Capitalism. The downside of such a proposal, as I see it, might be that U.S. Sugar would sell the former farm land to developers and who knows what that might do to the Everglades. If they were such good stewards of the environment they might consider donating the former sugar land to an organization that would use it to restore and preserve the full, original size of the Everglades. After all, the Everglades is one of our National Parks.

Bob Skribiski

St. James City