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U.S SUGAR CORPORATION CALLS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PEACE; OFFERS PLAN TO RESOLVE DISPUTE OVER FLORIDA EVERGLADES

 Proposal Would Restore Everglades, Save Thousands of Farm Jobs
 TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Feb. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- United States Sugar Corporation President and CEO J. Nelson Fairbanks today offered a plan for environmental peace to end the years-long battle over Everglades cleanup. The plan would "make both the Everglades and jobs the winners."
 Fairbanks, who heads Florida's oldest and largest sugar-producing company, briefed state officials and the media in Tallahassee on a plan he says is a "major proposal for environmental peace" with parties locked in a four-year long debate on how and when to improve the quality of water going to the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Preserve and Everglades National Park.
 In the proposal, Fairbanks offered to drop lawsuits against the government's cleanup plan, accept government-mandated water quality standards and stormwater treatment areas and guarantee cleanup of pollution caused by farmers. The proposal also calls for a fair division of responsibility between farmers and the public for meeting the standards. Implementation would make use of tradeable Everglades restoration credits.
 "After listening to all sides in the Everglades dispute," Fairbanks said, "I believe that we are closer to an agreement than any of us recognizes." He said that during the struggle over the Everglades SWIM plan, farmers have distrusted supporters of the federal-state settlement agreement that mandates the clean-up because they fear losing their livelihood and thousands of jobs throughout South Florida. Environmentalists distrust anyone resisting the settlement agreement, Fairbanks said.
 "Despite the angry words, I see broad common ground on which to build a lasting environmental peace -- one that preserves both farm jobs and the Everglades," Fairbanks said.
 "Everyone of good will wants the Everglades restored," Fairbanks said. "Everyone of good will wants to preserve the livelihood of farm families.
 "With a fair division of responsibilities, we can have an environmental peace that makes both the Everglades and jobs the winners," Fairbanks said.
 The proposal outlined by Fairbanks:
 1) Farmers would end their opposition to the Everglades Settlement Agreement between the state and federal governments. The agreement was announced in July 1991 after months of secret talks from which farmers were excluded. Since then, U.S. Sugar and other farmers have contested the mandated Everglades water quality standards and the $400 million stormwater treatment areas. Numerous lawsuits were filed against the agreement. Farmers believe that putting most of the agreement's costs on their shoulders would drive them out of business, destroying South Florida's more than 38,000 farm-related jobs.
 Fairbanks said as part of an environmental peace agreement, the law suits would be dropped. "That means we should accept the water quality standards and the stormwater treatment areas, despite our doubts," Fairbanks said.
 2) The plan calls for "a fair division of responsibility between farmers and the public for meeting the standards." "If we farmers pollute, we should pay to clean up the pollution," Fairbanks said. "But if we don't, it is only fair that we shouldn't."
 Under the plan, if farmers add a pound of phosphorous to the water beyond what enters their land through the atmosphere, irrigation and underground seepage from Lake Okeechobee and public canals, the farmers would be required to take a pound out or pay to have it taken out. At the same time, "getting water cleaner than one pound onto our land equals only one pound off is a public responsibility for which government should pay."
 3) The plan calls for a fair division of responsibility among levels of government. "If all parts of Florida are united behind a plan to save jobs and the environment," Fairbanks said, "how can Washington fail top step up to its fair share?"
 To date, no one directly involved in the dispute has addressed the federal role in paying for Everglades restoration. "Editorialists around the state have noted that the federal government and the Corps of Engineers created the major share of the Everglades problem and should accept most of the government responsibility for fixing it," Fairbanks observed. He said the federal role should go beyond phosphorus clean up to getting "the flow of water through the Everglades -- hydroperiod -- right, as well as the eradicating melaleuca and other exotic species.
 The "plumbing problem," Fairbanks said, is a product of federal initiatives dating as far back as the first decade of this century. These initiatives produced the system of canals. dikes and other water projects that have made much of South Florida habitable. "But, they also diverted the natural flow of water through the Everglades, creating major ecological problems. The federal government needs to address all of these issues, Fairbanks said.
 4) Fairbanks said a consensus has developed supporting the tradable Everglades restoration credits plan developed by Dr. Robert Hahn, an economist with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington and Harvard University. Hahn is a consultant for U.S. Sugar.
 "Farmers who decide to pay for someone else to handle their phosphorus-removal obligations should have the flexibility to pay whoever can handle it cheapest," Fairbanks said. "They may pay through buying restoration credits from other farmers or through buying participating in the state-sponsored storm water treatment areas or other regional facilities. Credits would provide an incentive to develop more effective and cheaper phosphorus clean-up technology, which is good for all of us."
 Under the plan, using restoration credits, the state would determine how many pounds of phosphorous enter an average acre of farmland from the atmosphere, irrigation and seepage. Farmers would receive one credit per pound based on their acreage and could discharge only that many pounds into the public canals.
 Farmers who discharge fewer pounds could sell their surplus credits to those who exceed their limit. The result would be a strong financial incentive to develop inexpensive, highly effective clean-up technologies. The lower clean-up costs would save farms and farm jobs. The more effective technology would contribute to Everglades restoration.
 For the past two years, U.S. Sugar has been developing these kinds of phosphorous removal methods and has invested more than $3 million in the project. The company's recent progress report to the South Florida Water Management District governing board was widely praised. It demonstrated that new on-farm phosphorus removal technology was less expensive and more efficient than had been believed.
 "This environmental peace proposal gives the environmental community everything it has asked for -- water standards, clean up methods," said Fairbanks. "We have taken away every reason to say no and put in every reason to say yes. We believe that it is so fair to all concerned that the should be embraced by people of good will on all sides of the issue."
 U.S. Sugar, based in Clewistion, Fla., is Florida's oldest and largest producer of sugar. Established in 1931, it is among the nation's largest producers of leafy winter vegetables and a major citrus grower. The company is largely employee-owned.
 -0- 2/21/92
 /CONTACT: Robert Buker of United States Sugar Corporation, Sunday: 904-681-6855, or Monday, 813-983-8121/


CO: U.S. Sugar Corporation ST: Florida IN: SU:

SM-MA -- NYSU005 -- 8727 02/21/93 14:22 EST
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Date:Feb 21, 1993
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