House Bill 7065:places the cost of Everglades' restoration largely on Florida's taxpayers instead of polluters. This bill caps the amount sugar farmers and other agricultural operations must pay to restore the Everglades, despite the Florida Constitution's requirement that those causing the pollution must pay their proportional share. It also restricts enforcement of pollution discharge permits in the Everglades Agricultural Area. Despite strong opposition from unified conservation groups, including FWF, the bill was approved unanimously by the House State Affairs Committee. On March 14, it passed the House Appropriations Committee by a vote of 23-1. Senate Bill 0768 (Sen. Simpson), is a much better alternative to CS/HB 7065. This bill, as presently written, brings the statutory language into line with the recent State of Florida / Federal agreement on Everglades Restoration. The bill is scheduled for its first hearing in the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation on March 21, 2013.
Production: 7 million tons of sugar per year
Operations in Florida, California, Louisiana, New York, Maryland, Canada, Mexico, England and Portugal. Subsidiaries/Brands: Domino, C&H, Florida Crystals, Redpath, Jack Frost and Tate & Lyle.
The origins of Florida Crystals trace back five generations, when the Fanjul family began sugar farming and production in Cuba in the 1850s. After the 1959 communist takeover of Cuba, Alfonso Fanjul led the effort to reestablish the business in the rich soils of South Florida. With brother Jose Fanjul they grew the company as the world's largest sugar refiner.
In Palm Beach County, Florida Crystals owns 155,000 acres of land, two sugar mills, a sugar refinery, a rice mill, a packaging and distribution center, and a renewable electric energy plant that powers its operations and tens of thousands of homes.
About U.S. Sugar
Headquarters: Clewiston, FL Key executives:
Robert Buker, Chief Executive;
Robert Coker, Senior Vice-President Employees: 1,700, down from 2,100 in 2006 Properties: Farms more than 187,000 acres in Hendry, Glades and Palm Beach counties. Owns a mill and refinery in Clewiston and a closed mill in Bryant. Other holdings: Southern Gardens Citrus, which produces 42 million gallons of orange juice annually and owns 33,000 acres of groves; South Central Florida Express short-line railroad, which hauls sugar cane and products, fertilizer and farm equipment as well as products for lumber, paper and citrus industries Harvest (2007-08): 612,000 tons Annual revenues:
About $400 million from cane production Other alliances: U.S. Sugar is a member company of United Sugars Corp. in Edina, Minn., which markets and distributes its sugar and that of beet sugar producers American Crystal Sugar Co. and Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative. United Sugars' annual revenues are about $1.2 billion.
Sources: U.S. Sugar, Hoover's Inc.
in the World
Today, domestic producers sell sugar at 22 cents a pound. Producers in most other nations get 8 cents. America's artificial price prop adds $2.5 billion to the shopping bills of U.S. consumers each year.
The federal sugar subsidy program is "one of the most invidious, inefficient, byzantine, special-interest, depression-era federal programs" (Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY).
For maintaining its special market position, "Big Sugar" buys political and legislative influence by heavily contributing to BOTH dominant political parties.
Near-history of the FL "sugar scene" development :
1920 - State and private interests carved four massive canals to divert water directly into the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf, creating dry farmland.
1940s - US-ACE took over ‘reclamation’, building a complicated system of levees and hydraulics - all for taxpayers money.
1942 - US-Sugar Corp. indicted for slavery for its treatment of African-American workers
1944 - The growers start importing Jamaican and Caribbean labor working at near slavery conditions.:
1959 - Cuban Revolution and the following embargo on this foreign competitor allowed Florida sugar production to expand 10-fold.
1981 - US Congress passed the Farm Bill establishing a full system of sugar price supports: the government loans money to the sugar mills, accepting sugar in the case of default. It also set artificial selling price for sugar called "market stabilization price".
1982 - Congress established quotas and tariff levels on sugar to keep domestic prices high in order to guarantee the industry against losses.
1994 - FL State reached an agreement with the sugar companies requiring them to pay at least $230 million for cleanup and to reduce the phosphorus runoff from their farms, allowing the industry to stay in business.
1994 - Florida Legislature passed Everglades Forever Act, which calls for a multimillion dollar restoration plan over several decades. About 40,000 acres of man-made filtration marsh are scheduled to be constructed to reduce the level of phosphorus in waters flowing South.
1998 - US Attorney in Miami sued Florida for failure to enforce clean-water regulations. Big Sugar delayed the court challenge, lobbying aggressively to control the legislative settlement that would ultimately emerge as a result of the battle.
2003 - Gov. J. Bush signed a state law that pushes back 13 years (to 2016) the deadline for reducing pollution levels (10-ppb phosphorus standard) established in the late 1990s.
The Palm Beach Post described the bill as:
" - of, by and for the sugar growers".
2008 - Gov Crist proposes a massive US-Sugar Corp. buy-out: $1.75 billion for ~180,000 acres of sugar-cane land in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). 2010 - the US-Sugar buy-out was reduced to 1/7 of its original size.
Sugar industry - its dominance and protection in the USA
Interview with Chris Edwards, CATO Inst. (AUDIO)
Brief explanation of sugar trading in the USA (2007) Time to Rethink the U.S. Sugar Program, 35 min. (2007) Dan Griswold, Director - Center for Trade Policy Studies W.A. Reinsch, President - National Foreign Trade Council
CBC documentary "Big Sugar" - Political History (1/2) Dec. 2012: "Big Sugar" explores the dark history and modern power of the world's reigning sugar cartels. Using dramatic reenactments, it reveals how sugar was at the heart of slavery in the West Indies in the 18th century, while showing how present-day consumers are slaves to a sugar-based diet.
Going undercover, Big Sugar witnesses the appalling working conditions on plantations in the Dominican Republic, where Haitian cane cutters live like slaves. Workers who live on Central Romano, a Fanjul-owned plantation, go hungry while working 12-hour days to earn $2 (US). (44:30 min.)
BIG SUGAR dominates the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) - and Florida
Freechild, A. (2010) : "Sugar Barons and Stakeholders: The Impact of the US Sugar Deal on Everglades Restoration". NY University.
>> FULL TEXT:
Big Sugar is a collective term for the major sugar farming contenders in the Everglades Agricultural Area including large operations such as US Sugar Corp, Flo Sun, and Florida Crystals. Notorious for their environmentally un-friendly procedures, Big Sugar has become the major polluter of the Everglades region. Run-off from sugar cane fields contaminates surface water bodies and canals, affecting the entire ecology, plant and animal life. Their strong lobbying efforts allow them to do this without having to pay for all of cleaning and purification. In fact, as the history and present actions show, they leave the majority of that to the taxpayers.
Wikileaks: Fanjuls among 'sugar barons' who 'muscled' lawmakers to kill free trade deal
The cables read like a political thriller: In the Dominican Republic, a "small, powerful coterie of infuriated sugar barons" was trying to sabotage a top American priority, a free trade agreement.
Growers were likely bribing Dominican lawmakers, sponsoring anti-American attack ads and paying for slanted newspaper coverage, American diplomats alleged in secret dispatches to Washington in 2004 - documents obtained by WikiLeaks and reviewed by The Palm Beach Post.
The cables outline just one side of a high-stakes and contentious debate, but they contain controversial allegations against Palm Beach County's most influential sugar family: the Fanjuls.
The diplomats identified the Cuban expatriates as especially fierce opponents in the fight over the free trade agreement, a struggle that led to layoffs and a mill closing in the Glades.
On one side, the Fanjuls, owners of 155,000 acres in Palm Beach County and among the largest sugar producers in the world, and other Dominican sugar growers bridled at what they viewed as "heavy-handed" and "dictatorial" tactics by the U.S. ambassador and at American pandering to special interests.
On the other, the diplomats said the Fanjuls and other Dominican sugar barons threatened to land a devastating blow to a key piece of President George W. Bush's agenda, just as he was vying for re-election.
Details of the hard-fought conflict never before have been published. A close look at the cables, and at the Fanjuls' recent responses, offers an unvarnished glimpse at the nitty-gritty of diplomacy - and at how both sides of a controversial trade issue struggled to shape events and perceptions on foreign soil.
The State Department blamed Jose "Pepe" Fanjul, and representatives of his family's Dominican company, Central Romana, for much of the fierce opposition to the trade deal, according to interviews and The Post's review of hundreds of pages of diplomatic cables.
A lawyer for the Fanjul family, known for its hard-nosed business dealings and clout with politicians, dismissed the cables as "chatty gossip" and denied that the family was involved in any inappropriate or illegal dealings.
"The suggestion in these materials that lobbying and free speech activities are somehow evil and corrupt is absurd," attorney Joseph Klock wrote in a letter to The Post. Clash with Bush The Fanjuls are the largest landowners and private employers in the Dominican Republic, a nation of about 9.5 million.
Likewise, their clout in America is legendary. They live in massive homes on Palm Beach, and they're fixtures at society balls and charity events. Their lives became the rough basis for a short-lived network television series, Cane.
They're ranked by The Land Report as the 62nd-largest private landowner in America. They own about 12 percent of all land in Palm Beach County.
Pepe Fanjul, 67, was one of a handful of donors who raised more than $100,000 for Bush's second presidential campaign.
As he campaigned in 2004, though, the president was pushing a trade agenda that fell squarely at odds with the Fanjuls' business interests. And a critical part of that agenda was the trade agreement, known as DR-CAFTA. Embassy villainized What resulted was a "titanic struggle," according to the cables, a dramatic example of what happens when the interests of a powerful family collide with the priorities of a president it helped elect.
By September 2004, the cables said, Dominican sugar growers had mounted a fierce campaign to counter the trade deal. They were worried that cheap foreign imports would crowd out their place in the Dominican economy. They warned that the pact would spell the end of agriculture in the Caribbean nation, according to the cables.
Here's the U.S. Embassy's take on what went on:
As a first tactic, the sugar lobby spread rumors and bought advertisements, aiming "to shift perceptions, making the U.S. government, the U.S. ambassador and the embassy the villains of the piece," according to a confidential cable.
Pepe Fanjul, the cable said, spread rumors that the United States was revoking the visas of those who opposed the trade deal - "a patent absurdity," the cable said, "but one that Dominicans, with their conspiracy theories of bilateral relations, would be eager to swallow." Meanwhile, the sugar lobby relentlessly campaigned in newspaper ads, running personal attacks on the U.S. ambassador.
At the same time, the trade deal was savaged in the Dominican press, causing the diplomats, in an unclassified cable in September 2004, to conclude: "It's not just the search for drama that has motivated reporters. We are convinced that sugar interests are buying slanted coverage."
Next, according to the diplomats, the sugar lobby "muscled" a tax on imported high-fructose corn syrup into a badly needed Dominican tax reform package. The diplomats saw the "protectionist measure" as a major stumbling block and began campaigning hard to repeal it.
Concluding the cable, an embassy official complained that Dominican industry had done little to counter the efforts of sugar interests, "a group everyone perceives to be motivated and wealthy enough to purchase congressional votes wholesale."
'Legitimate lobbying' After reviewing the cables, the Fanjuls' attorney wrote that the dispatches only confirm that the United States resorted to "inappropriate and heavy-handed" tactics to batter the Dominican government into compliance.
As to whether Pepe Fanjul spread stories about Americans revoking visas, Klock wrote that "such an allegation is false and completely unsupported by any facts in the cables."
"Pepe denies ever making any such comment," Klock said Thursday in an interview.
More broadly, Klock noted, there's nothing improper or illegal about publicly opposing a controversial trade deal. "What these materials disclose at most is completely legal and legitimate lobbying and public relations activities."
'Man with the suitcase' In fall 2004, U.S. Ambassador Hans Hertell struck back, pressing the Dominican president, Leonel Fernandez, to repeal the tax on high-fructose corn syrup, according to a confidential cable.
"You don't have to convince me," Fernandez answered in English. "You are preaching to the converted."
The problem, he continued, was with the Dominican lawmakers. The Senate president "does not control the Senate on this issue," Fernandez said. "Central Romana" - the Fanjuls' company - "has it blocked."
The sugar lobby, Fernandez added, was rich and powerful, and it employed "the man with the suitcase" full of money to bribe congressmen.
Companies deny involvement Klock wrote that it is "absolutely untrue," and he forcefully reiterated this point several times, that the Fanjuls or any employee or representative of their companies did anything illegal or improper. He also said that Central Romana doesn't consider itself part of the Dominican "sugar lobby."
However, he added, "the company and its executives do belong to various trade groups, some of which maintain relationships with officials in the Dominican government."
As for "men with suitcases," Klock wrote, "none of them have anything to do with, nor are they supported or countenanced by, our companies or the executives who run these companies - not now or in the past." Layoffs in Glades As the debate roiled Santo Domingo, in America, the Fanjuls and the U.S. sugar lobby used their own tactics to fight free trade.
As in the Dominican Republic, Big Sugar predicted that the pact would mean the end of the American sugar industry. It warned that more foreign sugar on the U.S. market would drive American operators out of business.
Ahead of the 2004 elections, sugar interests spent more than $4.1 million on lobbying and gave $2.9 million to members of Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The Fanjuls gave at least $171,700.
Then, in December 2004, six months before Congress was to vote on the trade deal, the Fanjuls' Florida Crystals company announced it was laying off 182 truck drivers in Palm Beach County.
"CAFTA and agreements like it will have significant effect on the industry," Crystals spokesman Gaston Cantens told the South Florida Sun Sentinel at the time. "We need to make the cuts in order to remain viable in the future."
In July 2005, the trade deal squeaked through Congress, passing the House by a two-vote margin. Two months later, the Fanjuls' Atlantic Sugar Mill, between Wellington and Belle Glade, announced it was closing. The company blamed the trade deal. Tax breaks approved As the Fanjuls' companies readied for layoffs in Palm Beach County, the U.S. Embassy kept the pressure on Santo Domingo. In December 2004, the Americans met with two key Dominican senators for an update on rolling back the "protectionist" parts of the tax reform law.
"The senators spoke with one voice: The Senate had failed four times to pass (a repeal bill) because many senators have obligations or links to the traditionally powerful sugar industry," officials reported in a Dec. 16 cable. "Only with 'compensating' tax breaks would a majority of senators vote to repeal."
The International Monetary Fund, which was aiding the struggling Dominican government, strongly opposed the senators' plan. But the bill satisfied Central Romana, the cable said, and the following September, the Dominicans ratified the free trade pact.
In his letter, Klock wrote that Central Romana supported the tax plan "because it was in its best business and economic interests to do so, especially when faced with the heavy-handed and threatening posture of Ambassador Hertell and other embassy staffers." Business survives In a November telephone interview, Hertell responded. "I acted with the utmost respect for the government and people of the Dominican Republic, and everything that we did was in coordination with them," Hertell said. "To say that I was heavy-handed is unfair."
In the years since the deal, the Dominican sugar industry remained alive and well. Most recently, Central Romana cranked out about 150,000 tons of sugar for export to America, where the sugar could fetch about $112 million.
Neither has the Fanjuls' Florida business dried up, records show.
But it has taken a hit: Instead of producing $1.9 billion worth of sugar, as they did between 2000 and 2005, the companies produced less in the past five years, when crops were ravaged by hurricanes and freezes.
The new figure ? $1.8 billion.
Staff researchers Niels Heimeriks and Michelle Quigley
and staff writer Ana M. Valdes contributed to this story.
How The Post got the story Palm Beach Post investigative reporter Adam Playford obtained a WikiLeaks archive of more than 250,000 State Department cables and developed special software to search it. He and investigative reporter Michael LaForgia spent two months poring over hundreds of pages of classified dispatches and conducted more than a dozen interviews with diplomats, industry advocates, sugar policy experts, a former U.S. ambassador and representatives of the Fanjul family. Who are the Fanjuls ? Cuban expatriates Alfy Fanjul, 74, and Pepe Fanjul, 67, own Florida Crystals and Flo-Sun. They employ about 2,000 people in the region, but their influence reaches to the upper echelons of American politics and into business interests worldwide.
Their companies own about 12 % of all land in Palm Beach County. Palm Beach’s sugar moguls
Alfy Fanjul, later joined by his brother Pepe, bought the family’s first American cane field, 4,000 acres in Pahokee, in 1960. In the United States
Opposed the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement signed by President Bush in August 2005.
Sell sugar under the labels Florida Crystals, Domino and Tate & Lyle, among others.
Generous campaign contributors, giving to local, state and federal campaigns, both to Democrats and Republicans. In Palm Beach County
Homes on Palm Beach; Alfy Fanjul’s 11,993-square-foot home is valued, conservatively, at $13.1 million; Pepe Fanjul’s 12,782-square-foot home is valued at $6.6 million.
Employ about 2,000 in the Palm Beach County region.
Run two Palm Beach County mills. Blamed the trade deal for the 2005 shutdown of Atlantic Sugar Mill in Glades.
Helped kill former Gov. Charlie Crist’s push to buy nearly 200,000 acres owned by rival U.S. Sugar for Everglades restoration.
Proposed a 14,000-acre new town west of Wellington in 2004 to attract The Scripps Research Institute.
Co-owners of a proposed reservoir west of Wellington, now part of Palm Beach Aggregates rock pits. In the Dominican Republic
Control Central Romana, an agriculture, manufacturing and tourism company that produces about three-quarters of the nation’s sugar.
Largest private employer — about 25,000 workers — and largest landowner, with more than 200,000 acres and an international airport.
Operate Casa De Campo, an upscale, 7,000-acre hotel and resort. Who leaked to WikiLeaks ?
Pfc. Bradley Manning is accused by the U.S. government of leaking field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and more to Julian Assange, co-founder of the government transparency group WikiLeaks.
His defense: Manning’s attorneys argued in a recent hearing to determine whether he should face a court-martial that the leak occurred because Manning, who is gay, was deeply emotionally disturbed over the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.
US Sugar Corp. Land Purchase - suggested and changed
US-Sugar and their bull
NewsZap.com (Oct.10, 2012)
Increased uptake of phosphorus improves plant health, root structure and growth.
This is right off their website: 2008 through 2010 was a bittersweet time for U.S. Sugar – a company that has been farming in the Lake Okeechobee region for more than four generations. It was during this time period when the Company agreed to sell a considerable amount of its sugar cane and citrus acreage to the South Florida Water Management District for the “River of Grass” restoration project. U.S. Sugar is firm in its belief that the sale was for a good cause and is proud to be part of this historic opportunity to make extraordinary progress in Everglades restoration and restore much of the natural footprint of South Florida.
It was BITTERSWEET for them ??? In 2009, a proposal for a scaled down acquisition was made due to the global economic crisis. Under the new contract, U.S. Sugar agreed to sell 72,500 acres of the Company’s land for approximately $530 million to the SFWMD. While the SFWMD finalized plans for the land, the Company (US Sugar) would continue to farm the 72,500 acres through a 7-year lease that may be extended under certain circumstances.
PLUS: On August 12, 2010, a second amended agreement was reached for the South Florida Water Management District to buy 26,800 acres of land for $197 million along with the option to acquire 153,200 acres in the future. How in the name of Hades was that a "bittersweet time" ? $727 MILLON IN TWO YEARS !!!
Plus they laid off 100's of employees because they were loosing that land ?? Oh but wait they now have 99,300 acres they can still farm BUT alas they don't have to pay property taxes on that land because it's now government land.
So the Hendry County Property Appraiser's office wants them to pay their fair share in taxes now and they are doing all they can to get him voted out of office in favor of a sore looser who cost the county almost $200,000 in court costs when she was defeated four years ago !! And if they have to pay more in taxes well they'll just have to lay more people off ...
There is nothing SWEET about what US Sugar is trying to do. They are asking us to swallow a load of bull with no sugar to help it go down while they destroy a good man’s name so they don't have to pay more in taxes. The Hendry/Glades Sunday News seemed to believe it would be around a $700,000 hike in taxes for them. That's alot of money or is it ?? It really isn't when you consider they are farming almost a 100,000 acres that are no longer on the tax roles ! I'm no appraiser but I'd bet thats a million or more in savings they are getting by not paying taxes on that land.
So even saving by not paying taxes on land they'd leased they "will have to lay off" employees !?!?! What happened to that 3/4''s OF A BILLION DOLLARS YOU GOT TWO YEARS AGO ?
Why can't you use some of that money to prevent any lay offs? After all it was some of my tax money. Just an old lady with alot of time on her hands and a lot of questions for a company that was so happy to help with the Everglades restoration even if getting 3/4's of a billion dollars was such a bittersweet time for them !
l Not So Sweet: The Intricacies of Big and Little Sugar. InTheseTimes (blog) - Kari Lydersen - Feb.16/2012
The lead on a story by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) attacking import limits and other government protections for the
U.S. sugar industry was an attention-grabber: "That Valentine’s Day hand on your back pocket billfold is not your sweetheart’s,
it’s the sugar lobby’s."
l In the Everglades, the Miracle That Wasn't. New York Times (blog) - Damien Cave - Aug.12/10
The aging environmentalist with the Abe Lincoln beard ambled to the podium on Thursday to tell water managers that he could
no longer support ...
HOW IS SUGAR MADE ?See the VIDEO below:
White sugar, brown sugar, molasses, rum, slavery, sugar triangle - all worth fighting for. And dying - -
Agriculture, farming, is the source of sugar raw material - sugar cane (in the south) and beats (in the north). Historically, caribbean sugar industry and sugar cane cultivation spilled over to the USA where by far the largest concentration of it is in the area of Florida called the "Everglades Agricultural Area".
The US sugar production and the related market are heavily subsidized by the federal government. Not only this controversial practice is hotly debated (videos above) - its environmental impacts too. As are the political machinations surrounding all this.
Just look at this whole interesting 34-min. video.
Recent "sugar" comment ("Rich get fat on government teat", Seacoastonline.com, Sept.23, 2012) : ... "Little has been said about the rest of Romney's claim — that the lower half (of population) is uniquely dependent on government. The truth is almost exactly opposite. Aid for poor families and children has steadily declined. Housing subsidies, Head Start payments, heating assistance — you name it — have all been cut, often dramatically. What remains untouched are subsidies that support big business — tax subsidies so ingrained in the federal budget that hardly anyone talks about them. One of 2 examples: We handsomely subsidize high fructose corn syrup, part of a Byzantine set of corn price supports that also unwisely props up ethanol, the gasoline additive. Corn syrup is the predominant sweetener in soft drinks, even though it's far more expensive than sugar from the Caribbean. Congress levies high tariffs on sugar from desperately poor countries to protect Florida growers who are largely gone, thanks to reduced water withdrawals from the Everglades. Without the tariffs and corn subsidies, food prices would fall and taxpayers would save.
Obviously, it's too sensible for Congress to even talk about. ..."