For the record: 63% of the EAA is sugarcane

So there’s a little tiff going on between our friends in the conservation community and Big Sugar/Big Agriculture. It started, or at least accelerated, last week after four groups — the Everglades Foundation, Captains for Clean Water, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation and Florida Oceanographic Society — co-authored an op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel touting the need for continued Everglades restoration and more water storage as the solution for recent flooding that’s plagued the central Everglades.

But the piece also suggested Big Sugar could lend a hand by dropping lawsuits filed to thwart construction of the EAA Reservoir. Dropping the legal actions would be appropriate, wrote the co-authors, “considering that [Big Sugar’s] own fields are already being drained causing the drowning of the Everglades tree islands.”

Well. Big Sugar and Big Ag were outraged — outraged we say! — and quickly trotted out a shill to rip Captains for Clean Water in particular. And by the way, did you know a lot of fruit and vegetables are grown in the EAA? Why do these enviro groups hate farmers and want to ruin the nation’s food supply!

We would simply point out that the Everglades Agricultural Area encompasses about 700,000 acres. According to the University of Florida’s IFAS Extension in Palm Beach County, about 440,000 acres of that is sugarcane.

That’s 63%. Those seeking to refute the enviro groups somehow forgot to mention this. We wonder why.

Big Sugar has this way of trying to hide behind small farmers, as if most of the EAA land isn’t owned by huge agribusiness corporations. Likewise, this invocation of all the corn and other crops grown in the EAA is a way of distracting you from the fact that 63% of the EAA is sugarcane.

Lastly: At their Nov. 9 meeting SFWMD officials said 20% of the water stacked up in the central Everglades came from the EAA. So the EAA and our water management policies that keep it dry aren’t the CAUSE of the flooding — but certainly a SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTOR to the flooding.

So next time you hear a sugar shill wailing that enviro groups are distorting the facts — you might want to check the facts, as we did. And then you’ll understand who’s really doing the distorting.