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Politics

Farmers: Property Values Rise in 'Algae Counties,' Despite Everglades Foundation's Tale of Woe

June 1, 2017 - 8:00am
Sailfish Point in Martin County
Sailfish Point in Martin County

Glades farmers said they rejoice along with coastal residents after seeing news reports Wednesday from both Fort Myers and Stuart showing property values in those algae-affected communities increased during 2016.

This, "despite the efforts of the Everglades Foundation to spread misinformation and try to create more division between coastal residents and farming communities," according to a written statement from the group Florida Sugarcane Farmers (FSF).

The good news from property appraisers in Lee and Martin counties -- the so-called "algae counties" -- shows property values actually increased despite a record-setting year for rainfall and subsequently, large coastal discharges. It "brought a cold dose of reality to the tale spun by the Everglades Foundation, whose commissioned study in 2015 claimed Lake Okeechobee releases directly decreased property values in the affected areas."

A report on Treasure Coast Newspapers' website TCPalm says property values in Martin County increased by 5.3 percent last year; the Fort Myers News-Press says over the same period, Lee County residents saw a 6 percent increase. 

In Port St. Lucie, property values increased by 10.6 percent, and countywide in St. Lucie by 6.75 percent.  

In 2016, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discharged more than 1.7 million acre-feet of water to the Caloosahatchee River, 827,000 acre-feet of water to the St. Lucie River, and 718,000 acre-feet of water south of Lake Okeechobee.

“In 2016, we were equally as frustrated with the discharges to the coastal communities that were caused by excessive rainfall north of Lake Okeechobee and the ever-present threat of high lake levels wreaking havoc on the Herbert Hoover Dike,” said Ardis Hammock, an independent sugarcane grower from Moore Haven. “We all share these concerns and have been advocating for finding solutions for these problems, but it’s counter-productive and completely irresponsible for paid environmental activists to twist the facts and mislead the public about the true impact of Lake Okeechobee’s excess water.”

FSF points to a similar "manipulation" incident back in January, when the Everglades Foundation was caught manipulating data by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) in an attempt to show that storage south of Lake Okeechobee would perform better than storage to the north. "In a letter to the Everglades Foundation, a SFWMD scientist said the foundation’s model used 'irresponsible science”' and was 'more of an academic exercise than a realistic tool to support informed policy and decision making.'"

"Ultimately, the Florida Legislature rejected the Everglades Foundation’s attempted land grab, which the bill’s own staff analysis showed would have a “negative fiscal impact … due to the reduction in available farmland,” farmers write in their statement.

“We’re happy to see the estuaries are rebounding and private property values along the coasts are increasing,” Hammock said.

The group Florida Sugarcane Farmers describes itself as farmers who are part of a $3.2 billion-a-year industry that employs 12,500. 

Comments

Nancy! We are learning that the toxic algae may have done horrible damage to our livers. It's time for you and who ever pays you to let go of the hate and move forward! Let's write about how we can help the people that live in the Glades!

Amen! And well said. Nancy - perhaps you or someone yiunlove would like to take a little bath in that algae-bloom water. Enough! No more pro-sugar propaganda on here. Let's all move on.

If I had known of the algae problem iin the Csloosahatchee River system and Lee County beaches before purchasing a home in Lee County, I would have skipped Lee County and looked elsewhere

Seriously? You make the case against yourself when you show property values up a whopping 10.6% in Port St. Lucie and even 6.75% in St. Lucie County, compared to those areas hardest hit by the algae blooms (Stuart: 5.1%, Sewalls Point: 4.9%, and Jupiter Island: 3.6%). If you are going to use statistics to try to bolster your defense of this on-going environmental abomination, please find some numbers that don't make your case look the desperate reach it really is.

She can't let go.

Cyndi, she is paid NOT to let go.

I'm surprised she doesn't delete the comments calling her out. So I guess I have to give her that much.

Oh Dear God, give me patience. Another propaganda piece by the SSN, a wholly sugar industry owned deception rag.

If not for the bought and paid for pondscum sucking politicians, bought and paid for by the highly paid and politically connected pondscum sucking lobbyist's, we would be buying sugar from Cuba for half of what we pay now. Been going on for many years, ever since we decided that Fidel was a bad guy. Remember when Slick Willie was getting his Slick Willie tended to under the table while he was on the phone? He was talking to one of the Fanjul brothers. Imagine that.

Big Sugar is the largest, by far consumer of fertilizer in the state, 2nd, a long way back is citrus. They have helped create the algae problem, not prevent it...

Crystal, are you snakebites? If not, where did you get all that venom from? This is a well documented response to political propaganda put out by the Everglades. The land being farmed in the EAA has decreased dramatically over the last couple of decades due to government purchase for Everglades restoration projects. By the way, this is the most successful environmental restoration project in the history of our planet.

Jeff, only 2 of over 60 CERP projects have been completed in over 17.years. Everglades Restoration is the BIGGEST restoration project in history. Not the most successful, yet.

It is called "BIG SUGAR" for a very salient reason! They have a powerful lobby that controls the Florida Legislature. It would be appropriate to reduce the available farmland due to the negative impact on an essential part of Florida's unique ecosystem, the Florida Everglades, Big Sugar should NOT be allowed to conduct their own land grab and fill in any more of the Everglades and its surrounding marshes!

On a recent trip to Clewiston I was surprised to learn that U.S. Sugar is EMPLOYEE OWNED. I witnessed one of those employees attach safety chains to a RR car, dump its load of sugar cane, detach the chains and send the car on its way. His salary? $22.50/hour. With benefits: $45/hour. So the term Big Sugar is our fellow hard working blue collar citizens.

I fail to see why I should subsidize his job or his business. Sugar is a cancer on Florida, not an asset.

Comments are now closed.

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