Congressman Brian Mast is a war hero, unquestionably conservative, and clearly passionate about fighting for his district. No one can deny his commitment to trying to fix his district’s ongoing water issues. But Mast’s failure to see the bigger picture outside his Port Saint Lucie and Palm Beach congressional offices is a threat to more than 6 million people in South Florida and their water supply. And that includes Florida’s farmers and President Trump. More on Trump in a moment. First, farmers.
For the uninitiated, Mast got elected on the promise to do something about the ongoing algae problems that flow into local estuaries each year, befouling the area’s otherwise pristine waterways, killing fish, and in turn, killing off tourism and recreational activities that become too unpleasant due to the stench. The problem is that water flowing into Lake Okeechobee carries with it too many nutrients, promoting algae growth. The source of those nutrients is the source of much debate, but include lawn and fertilizer runoff and leaky septic tanks from millions of residential homes from Orlando and it’s sprawling suburbia, as well hundreds of thousands of local homeowners in Mast’s own district. And these voters prefer to ignore their own contributions to the problem and point the finger of blame elsewhere, typically at the farmers south of Lake Okeechobee.
Mast is well aware that the farmers send next to zero water into Lake Okeechobee, and that the primary source of the pollution problem is almost certainly coming from the north or east. So Mast has settled on a proposal that satisfies some of his constituents, but doesn’t actually solve the problem. Mast wants to drop the water level in Lake Okeechobee, so that the Army Corps of Engineers isn’t forced to release its algae-filled waters into the estuaries that flow toward his district come rainy season, when flooding becomes a threat.
But this proposal threatens water rights of millions of South Floridians, including farmers. Mast’s singular focus on attacking farmers south of Lake Okeechobee is also politically dangerous. The world is in the middle of a food crisis and Floridians are rightfully skeptical of any food coming out of other countries.
Mast’s pursuit of lower lake levels threatens to disrupt the largest farming area east of the Mississippi River – an area that feeds 180 million Americans. As we’ve reported previously, in addition to sugarcane, there’s also millions of tons of vegetables and rice:
- Sweet Corn – enough to feed more than 16.5 million people
- Sugar—25 percent of America’s sugar production
- Rice – enough to feed 25 million people
- Lettuce – enough to make 1 billion salads
- Cabbage – enough for 250 million servings of coleslaw
- Fresh Green Beans – enough for 350 million servings
- Celery – more than 120 million stalks
Mast’s efforts, if successful, could create water shortages in these critical farming areas and also South Florida.
And that’s where President Trump enters the picture. His “Southern White House,” the famed Mar-A-Lago resort, with its perfectly manicured golf courses, swimming pools and decorative fountains, not to mention guest facilities, would have access to substantially less water if Mast succeeds in lowering lake levels. Why would he put the President in position to have to intervene right before an election?
It’s possible Mast is a pawn in a greater scheme.
Paul Tudor Jones, who supports Mast’s proposal, loves to position himself as a caring billionaire. He even cried on camera thinking about his virtual charity event he’s hosting. This is the man who singlehandedly controls the Florida environmental movement’s purse strings, and this week, Jones has unashamedly admitted he’s taken investments out of the U.S. dollar and bought bitcoin. So maybe there’s money to be made in America’s demise. Brian Mast’s efforts to trash the nation’s farmers and a third of the state’s water supply would certainly increase the return on Jones’ bitcoin portfolio.
Mast is at his best when he’s attacking liberal policies and government excess. But attacking American farmers in the middle of the current COVID-19 crisis shows he’s either unaware of, or ignoring the bigger picture.