Today, Florida Governor Rick Scott attended a ceremonial bill signing with Senate President Joe Negron. Both leaders were joined by representatives of the Everglades Foundation, the Sierra Club, and Florida Oceanographic Society to celebrate Senate Bill 10, which gives Florida environmentalists what they admit is a “momentous victory.” But a number of extremist activists are already vowing to continue the “war” on Florida farmers and agriculture interests.Senate Bill 10 is widely celebrated as a carefully-crafted solution designed to alleviate water storage problems that have led to algae bloom in coastal estuaries east and west of Lake Okeechobee. In passing the law, the legislature sought to balance a range of concerns, not only from residents in coastal areas affected by the blooms, but residents of inland farming communities such as Belle Glade and Clewiston, both in the Everglades Agricultural Area who would be negatively impacted by any loss of farmland to create more water storage south of the lake.
An earlier version of SB10 proposed spending up to $2 billion to purchase 60,000 acres of farmland that could have put many families out of the farm business forever. A compromise was ultimately struck that delivered what environmentalists wanted, without taking farmland.
“Ultimately, U.S. Sugar supported this dramatically improved legislation because it takes essentially no privately-owned farmland out of production, removed the threat of eminent domain for the EAA Reservoir and would build on land already in government ownership. Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature recognize the importance of protecting our water resources while also protecting our farming communities and vital local food production,” said Judy Sanchez, U.S. Sugar’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs. “We appreciate Governor Scott’s strong support for rural communities south of Lake Okeechobee by advocating for $200 million in funding for expediting repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike. This structure is absolutely critical to protecting all of South Florida—not just the farming communities—from a catastrophic flooding event.”
But even though the final version of the bill still delivers on what environmental activists all said would provide the relief they seek – a massive water storage reservoir of up to 360,000 acre feet of water, located south of the lake – extreme activist groups like BullSugar.org and Friends of the Everglades were noticably absent from today’s signing ceremony. And they are already admitting they aren’t satisfied with a “momentous victory.” The activists want more. BullSugar recently sent an email to its supporters vowing to continue the fight:
Together we achieved a momentous victory, and we all should be proud and happy. We won a battle, though, not the war.
And Friends of the Everglades pulled no punches during a recent interview with the Miami New Times, revealing their true aim, to put farmers out of business in South Florida:
“Eminent domain — allowing the state to purchase land from unwilling sellers — is a tested, tried, and important policy option for government.”
There you have it. Compromise isn’t part of the vocabulary for elitist, extremist, environmentalist organizations. To protect their waterfront homes, they will continue to pursue the destruction of South Florida’s agriculture communities with religious fervor. Peaceful coexistence isn’t an option.