Big Sugar’s Influence Stretches from South Florida to Washington
ARTICLE REFERENCE: Big Sugar’s Influence Stretches from South Florida to Washington
By GINA JORDAN • FEB 23, 2014
Sugar is one of the biggest special interests in Tallahassee. More sugar comes from Florida than anywhere else in the country.
It’s grown in a 700,000-acre region between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades known as the Everglades Agricultural Area. (Actual farming acreage, which includes other crops, is 470,000 because of conservation areas and other projects.)
Florida sugar growers say they provide the state with $3.1 billion in economic activity each year – and 12,500 jobs. The processing facilities say they are self-sufficient, operating on renewable energy and selling surplus electricity back to the Florida Power and Light grid.
“Historically, big sugar has meant big bucks for politicians running for office,” says University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus. She says sugar companies are often successful at getting legislation passed — or preventing less appealing proposals from moving forward.