On July 19, Florida Sugarcane Farmers released this statement from Ardis Hammock, owner and operator of Frierson Farms in Moore Haven, and launched lakeokeechobeeinfo.org:
Sugarcane farmers have a long and proud history of working with Florida governors on both sides of the aisle, dating back to when sugarcane was first planted in southwest Dade County in the 1920s. As an industry today, we proudly support more than 12,500 jobs and contribute $3.2 billion to Florida’s economy. We also grow sweet corn, rice, citrus, green beans, broccoli and other crops that Americans rely on for sustenance year-round.
We look forward to educating all the candidates on the issues impacting sugarcane farmers across South Florida. It’s a shame the conversation has been hijacked by anti-farmer groups, which have been spreading misinformation about our jobs and our way of life. The facts show that more than 95 percent of the water and nutrients in Lake Okeechobee come from the north. Just like our coastal neighbors, we are concerned about algae in local waterways, which is why we support science-based solutions that will store and treat the water coming into Lake Okeechobee at its source north of the lake. To date, sugarcane farmers have given up more than 120,000 acres for Everglades restoration, including the land now being used to develop the EAA Reservoir. We have invested more than $450 million into research, restoration and on-farm water and soil cleaning efforts — more than any private entity has spent to date. And we clean every drop of our water before it leaves our farms, achieving a 55 percent annual reduction of phosphorus over a 22-year period.
We encourage everyone with questions about our businesses, our farming practices and our commitment to the environment to visit lakeokeechobeeinfo.org for more information.”
Owner/operator of Frierson Farms, a multi-generational sugarcane farm in Moore Haven