Over the past few years, Congressman Mast has been proposing policies that hurt jobs in factories supported by South Florida’s sugarcane farmers. In Florida, sugarcane farming and processing supports 12,500 jobs and provides $3.2 billion for Florida’s economy. With so much water in Florida through annual rainfall, we should be ensuring there’s enough for everyone rather than picking winners and losers in the water debate like Congressman Mast.
In the current discussion over the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM), Congressman Mast has been pursuing a plan that would prioritize his district while threatening water supply for more than 6 million people in South Florida, including the environment, native American tribes, cities like West Palm Beach as well as South Florida sugarcane, vegetable, sod and rice farmers. He has falsely suggested that at least one of the proposals the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering was developed by “sugar lobbyists,” when in reality all of the alternatives on the table were developed by the Army Corps of Engineers through their Project Delivery Team (PDT) process. Florida’s agricultural industry believes that the Army Corps can and should develop a plan that provides water for all those who need it and significantly limits sending water to those who don’t want it. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working toward limiting harmful discharges to Congressman Mast’s district as well as the west coast as best as it can. By adopting a LOSOM plan that significantly improves the environmental conditions in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, Lake Okeechobee, and the Everglades while also providing South Florida water users with what they need, the Army Corps can choose a lake management proposal that ensures everyone wins. Unfortunately, it seems like the only thing Congressman Mast wants is a plan that works for his district, but hurts everyone else.
Contrary to the inaccurate picture Mast paints of us, Florida’s sugarcane industry provides good-paying jobs with benefits including healthcare, competitive wages and retirement. Employees in the sugar Mills and refineries are members of the International Association of Machinists and include many multi-generational families. We are proud to work in Florida’s sugar industry, and attacks on our jobs from Congressman Mast are completely unwarranted.
Florida State Council of Machinists