Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Big Sugar goes right up to the edge of the law, every time, and when the law isn't good enough, Big Sugar changes the law

Jon Ullman - Sierra Club

Two examples:

Big sugar is at it again, putting profits ahead of the water needs of seven million Floridians and the health of the Everglades.

Take action now to protect Florida's residents, lands and wildlife. Tell Gov. Scott "Direct the FDEO to deny development in the Everglades agricultural area!"

Last week, US Sugar unveiled plans to build a massive, sprawling city called Sugar Hill between the Everglades and its water source, Lake Okeechobee.

The project would bring 18,000 new residential units and 25 million square feet of commercial, industrial, office and retail buildings directly into the Everglades agricultural area, effectively preventing clean water from Lake Okeechobee from reaching the Everglades and the millions who rely on it.

The 67-square-mile development would have a devastatingly irreversible impact on the Everglades and coastal communities. This dangerous plan would also skyrocket the value of US Sugar's land, potentially derailing completion of the Florida government's contract with US Sugar to purchase 153,000 acres in the Everglades for cleaning and restoration.

The decision will ultimately be made by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO), but Governor Scott has the power to direct their denial of the project. Now is your chance get him moving!

Tell Florida Governor Rick Scott and South Florida Water Managers to direct the FDEO to stop big sugar's massive development plan and protect the Everglades, the sole source of drinking water for seven million residents.

The Governor cannot allow US Sugar to wall off the Everglades from Lake Okeechobee putting the Everglades and the coasts in jeopardy. The state of Florida has the power to stop the Sugar Hill development plan now, but the decision makers need to hear from you; reach out now and demand the Governor and the South Florida Water Management Board direct the FDEO to deny this bad plan.

If allowed, US Sugar's development plans could threaten the Everglades, impact coastal communities and jeopardize clean water for millions.

Tell Governor Scott to protect the Everglades and the people who depend on it by directing the FDEO to deny the plan immediately!

Thanks for all you do for the environment.


Jon Ullman
Sierra Club

P.S. After you take action, be sure to forward this alert to your friends and colleagues!
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For more info on the dangerous Sugar Hill plan, check out a recent article from the Tampa Bay Times.

August 14, 2014, 03:00 pm
Big Sugar has finally gone too far
By Thomas Schatz
The Hill, Washington DC

The latest example of Big Sugar running to Uncle Sugar to protect the industry’s sweet deal at the expense of taxpayers and consumers occurred on March 28, 2014, when domestic sugar producers filed complaints about Mexican sugar imports to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and the Department of Commerce (DOC). The petitioners claim that Mexican sugar is being dumped in the U.S. market and receives unfair subsidies from the Mexican government, thereby injuring U.S. sugar producers.

While the agencies have agreed to investigate the two complaints, which is a routine decision in such cases, it would be an insult on top of injury to both taxpayers and consumers if they rule in favor of Big Sugar.

As a signatory to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Mexico now has open access to the U.S. market. NAFTA has led to an integrated sweetener market under which Mexico exports sugar to and imports high fructose corn syrup from the U.S. In fact, the current system is precisely what was anticipated by both countries when the agreement was ratified in 1994. But Big Sugar’s filings with the ITC and DOC threaten to disrupt this balanced market, since Mexico is likely to retaliate if the agencies rule in favor of the U.S. sugar producers.

While the federal government has been supporting sugar beet and sugar cane growers and processors for more than 75 years, the sugar program, which is comprised of the following combination of policies, has been particularly pernicious since the 2008 Farm Bill. That legislation increased loan rates for raw and refined sugar; continued a domestic allotment system; placed new restrictions on the ability of the secretary of Agriculture to allow imports even if they are needed to fill shortfalls in the U.S. sugar market; and created the federal Feedstock Flexibility Program, which requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sell surplus sugar for ethanol production (an industry which receives its own federal subsidies) at a loss to the government. Despite the best efforts of taxpayer and consumer groups, amendments to mitigate the negative effects of the 2008 Farm Bill were defeated during consideration of the 2014 Farm Bill.

The sugar program has caused the price of sugar to be about 40 percent higher than the world price, resulting in increased costs to consumers of $3.5 billion annually in years 2009 through 2012. Thousands of jobs in sugar-using industries such as candy manufacturers have been lost. Finally, sugar producers forfeited $152 million worth of sugar to the USDA in September and October 2013. The Congressional Budget Office projects costs of $629 million between fiscal years 2014 and 2024, which demonstrates the continuing taxpayer costs of this ill-conceived sugar program.

When Big Sugar tries to solve their own problems by using trade laws as a weapon to intimidate America’s partner in a free trade agreement, they are playing with fire. Their blatant attempt to manipulate not only domestic agriculture policy but also the trading rules between the United States and Mexico should be emphatically rejected by both the ITC and the DOC. Otherwise, the heavily subsidized U.S. sugar industry will continue to leave a sour taste in the mouths of taxpayers and consumers.

Schatz is president of Citizens Against Government Waste.

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Caffeine Clicks said...

What a joke, the last thing that area needs is a 67-square-mile development. There are so many foreclosures and abandoned homes in that area. Whose going to buy or lease these properties?

Anonymous said...

It's all a play by US Sugar and the cartel to push up the price of their land. Like they are daring the public: if you want this land, pay us the full developable value. And where are the legislators demanding eminent domain? Name one!