At 05:18 PM 12/14/2008, Margaret England wrote:

 

Marti,

 

I join Ron in respectfully disagreeing with the purchase as currently being considered. Acquiring land from various landowners, working with communities, acquiring funding, and completing the restoration of the Everglades in a timely manner have not been  addressed. Planning for the needs of the communities, Everglades National Park, wildlife and the future water needs for agriculture and municipalities is vital to the success of this project.

 

Also, not all Audubon chapters will be signing the letter of support for the US Sugar Purchase.  Hendry-Glades Audubon does not agree with the purchase as currently being presented.

 

Margaret

 

 

----- Original Message ----- From: <rzimmerly>

To: <martisd >

Cc: <CRCABoard09 >

Sent: Sunday, December 14, 2008 4:50 PM

Subject: Re: [Crcaboard09] Ask governing board of SFWMD to vote for purchase of US Sugar Corporation Lands

Marti,

 

I respectfully disagree with the purchase as currently being considered.  SFWMD doesn't need 182,000 acres to accomplish the objective. The State has yet to offer any long range economic plan related to potential job loss. This was one of the very first things promised by State. We still don't know how much land is actually needed. I've heard only 50,000 acres may actually be needed. Someone has said you don't remove all of your teeth when you have one cavity. I don't disagree with a more reasonable purchase size and a different way to purchase it. At this time only the residents of the 16 counties in the SFWMD area are going to pay for the purchase. This is wrong. The Everglades is a national treasure and jewel and as such the ultimate land purchase needs to be paid for by the federal government. It is time for the cost to be borne by the many, not just the 16 counties. Until there is a viable and reasonable plan I would urge SFWMD to postpone the vote scheduled for Tuesday.

 

Ron

 

 

At 08:39 AM 12/15/2008, John Capece wrote:

 

Riverwatch Directors:

 

A massive ag buy-out strategy for the sake of environmental restoration is a fundamentally misguided approach.  We as a nation and global community cannot achieve our economic and environmental goals by on one hand allowing unsustainable agriculture to gain modest profits and economic activity, while on the other hand investing from the public sector amounts equal to the annual private profits in a continual clean-up behind the farms.  There is no net productivity of such an approach to feeding people.
  
Instead of a buy-out, we should be using whatever public funds are available to fundamentally transform the farms and associated food market economics from an unsustainable system to a sustainable one.  That will involve the purchase of some land, but at the core of the problem in south Florida (and everywhere else on the planet) is the need for food to be produced (and priced) in a manner that is compatible with water, soil, and habitat quality goals for the region. 

We cannot solve the problem by buying out domestic farms, with the displaced food production popping up somewhere else using equally or more destructive methods.  That is simply converting local environmental impacts into global impacts.

Also, the market value of the land in question is simply an artifact of government subsidy programs.  Those subsidies were provided for the sake of jobs, not for the benefit of large shareholders.  If it wanted to, the government could eliminate all value of the land in question by ending the sugar, soil degradation, irrigation/drainage, and pollution subsidies and by also precluding any changes in land use designation.  Then part of the land could be purchased for far less than $1.3 billion.  The balance could be better used to create a proper system of sustainable agriculture and natural areas in the region, with no net reduction in employment.  $800,000 per job ($1.3 billion / 1700) goes a very long way if properly invested in a sustainable economy.  It doesn't go far if used to further enrich the owners of historically-exploitive industry owners.

The current approach of buying excess lands while allowing the full continuation of muck-depleting farming practices is nothing more than a gamble that the deal will look better 8 years from now and that we can afford to put up similar amounts of money for buying the other half of the lands needed and for transforming the landscapes, while also salvaging the jobs of the region.  That's a mighty expensive gamble.  Much cheaper and globally-wiser solutions are available and could be implemented...if the government had the guts (and attention span) to pursue them.  I think the people, if properly asked, would recognize the fundamental wisdom of the alternative approach.


More fundamentally, the entire EAA and Everglades may have a life span shorter than children being born today.  The muck soil is being lost at a rate of 0.5 inches per year.  Farming is viable for a limited number of future years, using current methods.  Actually, the current EAA agricultural operations are not really farms at all, they are more like strip mines - converting consumed muck soils into food.  Beyond the soil depletion horizon looms the issue of sea level rise.  The land owners recognize the long term factors.  If they can sell out now for double the property appraisers valuation of the land ($7000 vs $3500 per acre). why wouldn't they?  And if they can continue to farm the land for a third of the prevailing land rental rates, why wouldn't they?  The question becomes whether it is a good deal for the general public.  I have my doubts.  I've not seen any plan put forward that shows how we achieve our long term goals by buying U.S. Sugar lands while allowing it to continue unsustainable farming practices.  

John

 

 

 

On Sun, 14 Dec 2008 16:17:39 -0500 "marti" wrote:

 

US Sugar Land Acquisition

 

Dear Board Members:

 

On Dec. 15 and 16 the governing board of SWFWMD will be discussing and voting on whether to acquire the US Sugar Corporation lands, thereby providing land for water storage and establish a flow way to the South, which will help restore the Everglades. This acquisition has had some controversy but most environmental groups are still in favor of the purchase (i.s. PURRE, Audubon, and the Conservancy). I

know this is short notice but I can send a quick email to each of the five SFWMD Board Members listed below in support of this purchase. If you disagee about this purchase, let me know by this evening. Otherwise I will email the SFWMD first thing tomorrow morning in favor of the purchase.

 

Marti