Economic development, Florida style: using enormous quantities of water to destroy jobs

How much money and water do you think we should give to Florida sugar farmers for job destruction?

According to the USGS, about one-eighth of all the water used in Florida in 2005 was for growing sugar in the Everglades Agricultural Area. In the current drought, it is especially important that water be used wisely.  Each dollar’s worth of sugar takes about 5,000 gallons of water to produce (considering both direct and indirect use of water).

Aside from sugar farmers and the Department of Agriculture, most people know that our sugar and water policy is about 180 degrees out of whack with economic development. About half of this country’s cane sugar is grown in Florida. Prices that American consumers pay for sugar are substantially above the world price because Congress acceded to industry lobbying and created costly loan-support and marketing allotment programs. The 2008 Farm Bill, for example, is expected to increase sugar costs to Americans by  $1.4 billion between 2009 to 2018. (pdf).

It gets worse. Artificially high prices for sugar mean reduced sales of many food products with sugar in them. The U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration estimated in 2006 that the high price of domestic sugar meant that for every job in sugar growing and harvesting saved by artificially high prices that almost three American jobs were lost in other parts of the food industry. (pdf) The more sugar we grow in Florida, the fewer jobs in this country.

In short, growing sugar cane in the Everglades Agricultural Area uses enormous amounts of water in a drought while destroying American jobs. Does that make any sense?

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  • Karl Wickstrom June 22, 2021 at 3:25 pm

    Actually, I’m told by a good source that the extra cost to families at the makets is more like $4 billion a year. But that doesn’t bother influenced politicians in the slightest.

  • Tom June 22, 2021 at 3:32 pm

    Plus, the cost of the sugar market protection is on top of all of the very large water pollution costs, flood control and water supply facilities, property tax exemptions, etc., etc. It is hard to think of a worse deal for Florida’s and America’s national economy and water resources.

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