Why we need to end the influence of ‘Big Sugar’

Florida Sportsman publisher – and VoteWater Board President – Blair Wickstrom makes the case:

In 2020 alone, Florida’s sugar industry — the home of Big Sugar — put at least $11 million into congressional campaign coffers. This happened on both sides of the aisle, in every corner of America. While Big Sugar may ask for nothing in return from members of Congress today, they’re making a down payment on a future request to preserve price supports and import quotas in the farm bill. That future request will go something like, “Do us this one favor. We’re asking for just one vote, every five years. No skin off your back. No one gets hurt.”

But our fishable inshore waters lose.  Big Sugar’s impacts on how we manage our state’s water are immeasurable.  And it’s gone on for more than five decades.  It has to stop.  And it’s not just anglers, people are being hurt. Through import controls, negotiated in the farm bill, Big Sugar forces Americans to pay as high as 100 percent above the average global sugar price.

On top of that, Americans are on the hook for a subsidy of $2.4 to $4 billion per year, all to send profits mostly to a few wealthy sugar producers.

Indeed, those subsidies are one big reason WHY those producers are so wealthy.

Wickstrom notes that anglers don’t have a particularly loud voice in Tallahassee, the state capitol – nor in Washington, D.C. They don’t have a PAC, or Super PAC; they don’t have the full-time lobbyists stalking the halls of power, looking to bend legislative ears at every opportunity.

Big Sugar does.

And it’s little surprise that because of that, because of the vast sums of money given to political candidates, the industry typically gets what it wants.

The inherent unfairness of this – the inequity – is the driving force behind the “No Big Sugar Money” campaign, which launched this week.

In it, we and other environmental groups and for-profit companies are asking candidates for office to reject money from Big Sugar, both direct contributions and contributions from the many PACs the industry supports. By not taking the money, they’re not on the hook for “just one vote,” be it on the farm bill – on last year’s Florida Senate Bill 88, which protects the industry from lawsuits related to sugarcane burning – not for Florida Senate Bill 2508, the sneak-attack legislation from this past session designed in part to give Big Sugar permanent sway over Lake Okeechobee water management.

Big Sugar is the dictionary definition of “special interest.” And its clout springs largely from its largesse, the money it gives.

Get more candidates who say “no, thanks” – and then get elected – and the clout wanes.

Democracy wins. Our water wins. The people – and not the special interest – win.

But as we say on the “No Big Sugar Money” page, “Change is on the way, but Big Sugar will fight to protect its rigged game with everything it’s got.”

That’s why we need your help – click here to sign your name.

And click here to donate. Every little bit helps the campaign – and helps Florida’s waters.