Associated Press reports that the state of Florida will give U. S. Sugar $1.75 billion to take 187,000 acres out of sugar production and give it to the State for Everglades restoration. An “environmentalist” is ecstatic:
“In the old days, you didn’t just beat your opponent, you also ate them,” he said. “Today, we’re eating U.S. Sugar.”
This works out to about $9,000 per acre, considerably more than the price of good rural midwest farmland. According to the article, it’s become increasingly difficult to make a profit in the sugar industry– leading one to imagine that a similar result might have been achieved had the State spent nothing.
The article states that the 1,700 employees will lose their jobs– but the companies web site says that it is an employee-owned company– with 1700 owners. Looking at it that way, it’s about a million dollars per displaced worker. Tho I doubt that each gets an equal share of what amounts to a gift from the taxpayers. The San Diego Union Tribune says employees own only 30% of the company. That source also says that the company’s 30,000 acres of orange groves are included in the deal.
And according to the New York Times, insiders have been squeezing the employee-owners out. So there may be even more sleaze here than at first appears.