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U.S. SUGAR REPORTS POSITIVE STEPS IN EVERGLADES MEDIATION; AWAITS OFFERS FROM FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR FURTHER PROGRESS

 CLEWISTON, Fla. April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- After four days of intensive discussions this week among mediators seeking a solution to the Everglades restoration dispute, U.S. Sugar Corporation reported positive signs of progress and a commitment to "spend whatever time is necessary to make the process work."
 "I believe we are inches apart and a solution is within our grasp," said Robert Buker, senior vice president of U.S. Sugar and the company's chief negotiator." We have serious proposals on the table and are waiting for a response from the Federal Government. We have offered an environmental peace plan endorsed by most farmers in the region south of Lake Okeechobee. The plan gives the government everything they want," Buker said "We ask only for a fair division of public and private responsibility in fixing the problem and a credits mechanism to help the farmers reduce their cleanup cost and save jobs. We believe there is little true distance between the government's position and ours. We look forward to continued constructive talks."
 Buker said his company has committed all of its resources to the mediation process in view of the stay of legal proceedings agreed to last week by the major parties to the dispute.
 Last week, farmers, the U.S. attorney's office and the South Florida Water Management District agreed to a 30-day cessation of legal actions to concentrate on trying to reach a negotiated resolution of disagreements about methods of cleaning phosphorus from farm water going to the Everglades.
 Some groups said they would agree to a stay of only 30 days and threatened to walk away from mediation proceedings if "there is not unanimous agreement that resolution appears certain" at the end of that time. Buker said farmers were willing to agree to a longer stay and believe it may be difficult to reach a complete settlement in such a short period. "However, we won't walk away if a final settlement is not reached during this time," Buker said. "We are totally committed to this process and we will meet every day, if necessary, to make the negotiations successful."
 Mediation negotiators are divided into two groups, one comprising the chief negotiators for each party to the issue and another group of technical negotiators from each party. The technical grouxt for the technical recommendations. Each session is chaired by Gerald Cormick, who was hired by all parties to lead mediation. If the mediation process is successful, the results, including all alternatives discussed, will then be aired again in the public governmental process.
 Mediation sessions are scheduled at least four days a week for the next three weeks. The policy and technical groups will meet on alternating days and will occasionally meet together for updates of information. The meetings are held alternately in West Palm Beach and in Miami.
 -0- 4/26/93
 /CONTACT: Sylvia Walters of the U.S. Sugar Corporation, 813-983-8121/


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

JB -- FL011 -- 0583 04/26/93 10:43 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 26, 1993
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/C O R R E C T I O N -- U.S. Sugar/

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