Probable Sale of America’s Largest Sugar Cane Grower Pleases Activists for Everglades


This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

The United States Sugar Corporation and the State of Florida are negotiating final sale of more than seventy-five thousand hectares of the company's land to the state. The land is north of America's famous Everglades National Park. The park is a protected wild area of wetlands sometimes called "a biological treasure."

U.S. Sugar is America's largest cane sugar producer. The sale is to be completed by November thirtieth. A temporary agreement calls for Florida to pay one-point-seven-five billion dollars for the land and other U.S. Sugar properties.

U.S. Sugar is to continue farming the land for six years. Then the company will surrender the land and its other holdings and close operations. It employs about one thousand seven hundred people.

Florida has been seeking to restore and improve the Everglades for years. The state government controls a large system of park, forest and wildlife centers in the area. Buying U.S. Sugar would give Florida an improved link between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. Farming and development in the area has cut off the natural flow of water. With farms removed, water could collect and run down into the part of the Everglades called the River of Grass. The River of Grass is a natural wetland.

Activists for the environment say they are extremely pleased by the planned sale. It comes after disputes between U.S. Sugar and state and private groups about water flow and pollution. One environmental activist group suggests creating environmental centers for tourists to provide jobs lost in the sale.

U.S. Sugar produces only about nine percent of the raw sugar in the nation. The United States gets its sugar mainly from Caribbean, South American and other countries.

The sugar industry in the United States has been trying hard to compete with less costly imported foreign sugar. U.S. Sugar is among leaders in representing sugar industry interests to national and state lawmakers. Some observers say the sugar industry will be less effective in influencing legislation without U.S. Sugar.

The company was established in nineteen thirty-one, during the Great Depression. The company's Southern Gardens Citrus operation grows and processes citrus fruit.

And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. I'm Faith Lapidus.