Title: George Wedgworth
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Full Text

EVG 14
Interviewee: George Wedgworth
Interviewer: Brian Gridley
Date: April 25, 2002

[Because the staff of Mr. Wedgworth preferred to edit this interview themselves
while ignoring the SPOHP's request for adherence to proper formatting
guidelines, we have refrained from doing our usual final-edit of Mr. Wedgworth's
interview. We have retained their edited version so that the reader can more
readily ascertain the extensive changes that Mr. Wedgworth has made and how
they differ from what he actually said in the interview. The strike-through lines
thus indicate the verbalizations of Mr. Wedgworth in the original interview, while
double-underlined passages mark the subsequent corrections that Mr.
Wedgworth added upon receiving the transcript.]

G: This is Brian Gridley interviewing George Wedgworth in Belle Glade, Florida.
The date is April 25, 2002. Mr. Wedgworth, tell me a little bit about your family's
history in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

W: My family came to the Belle Glade area in 1930, where my father accepted a job
as a plant pathologist_ whe He came here from Michigan State University back
in those days, it was called Michigan Agriculture College and he was employed
by the University of Florida at what now is known as the Everglades Research
and Educational Center here in Belle Glade. He was employed there as a plant
pathelegist-and did work outside of his field, aRnd He did the original work on
manganese deficiencies in the organic soils. He-Game to His employment by the
State of Florida as is an example of the public policy f to converting the
Everglades, or part of the Everglades, into a productive agricultural area. He is
my prime example of how public policy set-out established, even as early as in
the 1850 in-the Swamp and Overflowed Land Act, of the U. S. and state policy on
a carried out the conversion of at least part of the Everglades into a productive
agricultural region.

G: How or when did your family get involved with sugar production?

W: Actually, for a short and unsuccessful time in the 1940s. Wedgworth Farms was
as an independent grower for U. S. Sugar Corporation. Then the production of
sugar was discontinued until [the] Refermed formation of Sugar Cane Growers
Cooperative of Florida in 1960. and-we-The Cooperative's began-G r first crop
began in the fall of 1962.

G: Briefly, tell me about your professional background, including education and
career positions.

W: I'm a product of the public schools here in Palm Beach County. I graduated from
Belle Glade High School highschoolehere in 1946 Belle-Glade. I received my

Bachelor of Science from what is now known as Michigan State University, East
Lansing, Michigan, as an agricultural engineer. I came back to our family farm
operation because my mother had been widowed several years before. and she
She wanted me to e- -back return and start working in the farm operation at
Wedgworth farms Farms.

G: In 1960, you established the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida. Tell
me a little bit about the process that led you to organize that cooperative and
what its purpose was designed to be.

W: Wedgworth farm-s Farms, as well as many other farms in the Everglades
Agricultural Area (EAA), were primarily vegetable growers who overproduced,
resulting in poor prices and poor economic situations ,-anRd-we We were looking
for something that would provide diversity and stability to agriculture production
in the Everglades Agricultural Area EAA. Using the example that was laid down
by United States Sugar Corporation in the production of sugarcane and sugar,
we felt that it would be good if we could either become independent growers of
the United States Sugar Corporation or one of the other sugar companies that
was were in business then, or build our own facilities to be able to process sugar
cane. It turned out that the other companies were unable to take on the volume
that we used hoped to produce. We-were I, with the help of others, was
instrumental in getting fifty feur fifty-two primarily vegetable growers together to
build the facilities necessary to process sugarcane. We incorporated in 1960,
ground our first crop in the 1962-1963 season, and have had forty years of
continuous and successful operation since that time.

G: How many members do you currently have?

W: Fifty-four.

G: As your family was getting established in the South Florida area in the 1930s and
1940s, how did people view the Everglades?

W: My memory, plus the research and reading that I have done, shows that without
a doubt, that the great push to convert part of the Everglades into an agriculture
producing area was [made] by the policies set down by the federal government
as well as the state government in converting this area into a productive
agricultural area.

G: Was the view at the time a somewhat optimistic view that this was a good place
for agricultural development?

W: If you go back and read the minutes of the [meetings of] trustees of the Internal
Improvement Fund of the State of Florida, there is a lot of information that
indicates a great desire by the trustees to do exactly what was prescribed for the
them to do in the 1850 Swamp and Overflowed Land Act to convert the

Everglades into a productive agricultural [area]. In 1930, when my father was
sent down here with a goal of converting the so-called sawgrass muck into
production because productive agriculture, they were unable to raise certain
crops7 on the low mineral soils. hHe did the original work on manganese
deficiency, along W.ith Dr. Arby All ..n Dr. R. V. Allison whe did the original work
on copper along with other University of Florida research workers. Those- tw
items That research caused the lands away from Lake Okeechobee, which are
cal4ed the high mineral soils next to Lake Okeechobee, to become productive in
sugarcane, and vegetables, an4d-pasture and a4- other crops.

G: To what extent were you and your family personally affected by the massive
hurricane-driven flooding that occurred in 1947?

W: I happened to be a freshman in college and I remember my mother calling up
and saying7 that they just evacuated m-e her from-my her home in a boat because
ur--whele the entire farm is was under about three feet of water. Every farm that
we had, save except one, was flooded and there was a year's agricultural
production lost in the fall of 1947. It had a very dramatic affect on our livelihood
and [gave us] a real appreciation of w.-hat w'e should have and how it ';-ould be
good tehave the need for a good water management and good flood control
system. That [led to] the conception of the Central and Southern Florida Flood
Control District, which the Congress passed in House Document 643 in 1948.
That The 1947 Flood gave the impetus for that te go through the Bill's passage
by Congress.

G: After the 1947 flooding, the Army Corps of Engineers began to move forward
with the planning and construction of the Central and Southern Florida Project
[C&SF]. At that time, what did you think of the GCorps's effort to develop the

W: At that4ime Prior to the 1947 Flood, I was a young man in high school and I had
the opportunity to drive my mother to the several hearings that were set up by the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, trying to get public support of that program. I
remember attending hearings in Orlando, Okeechobee, Miami, West Palm
Beach, and listening to the public input in those hearings, which finally resulted,
following the 1947 Flood, in Congress passing House Document 643, setting up
the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District.

G: Was there a strong public demand for action to be taken at that time?

W: Great demand, because not only did the Glades drown out, I remember Senator
[Bob] Graham's [U.S. Senator from Florida, 1987-present; Florida governor,
1979-1987] home in Pensuco, Florida, having water up halfway in the windows of
the first floor of the two story building. There was a great outcry from the east
coast because a high percentages of homes in Broward, Dade, and Palm Beach
Counties that were eut-beyond west of the coastal area were flooded.- those

Those areas that have b-ilt and were built then inte the original Everglades-were-
fleeded. All of the newspapers weFe very strong on supported doing something,
not particularly for agriculture, but for the people who had been flooded, all the
way up to Orlando. If you look at maps of the flooding that was caused then, it
was not just agriculture, it was urban areas that were flooded out. So there was
a tremendous movement and support in the papers as well as [by] the people.
There was only a minor group that led a fight against it, and that group consisted
of Mr. Lykes, Mr. Collier, and State Senator Graham's-fathe.

G: What were their arguments against it?

W: I'm going primarily by the literature in saying that they were opposed. The
literature speaks of Senator [Ernest] Graham [father of Senator Bob Graham;
Florida state senator; mining engineer, dairy/cattleman] thinking that it would
possibly restrict the volume of water available to his operation in Dade County. I
don't know that firsthand, but [in] the literature, there are comments to that effect.

G: You mentioned hearings that you attended. Were these eCongressional
hearings or were these eCorps of eEngineers' hearings?

W: These were [U. S. Army] Corps of Engineers hearings set up to get the input of
the local affected people on what they thought in regard to the program. You
should be aware that the state was going to take on a similar program prior to it,
but the state's resources were not great enough. Therefore, this fell over
politically, pushed over, on the federal side, to the Corps of Engineers. They
were the ones that were holding the hearings prefatory preparatory to going to
Congress asking for approval of the project and appropriations.

G: Did you get a sense at the time whether or not the Corps was strongly interested
in getting the opinions of the public?

W: There is no question about it. They were interested and it turns out that the
Corps modified their program, to some extent, based upon input that was given
by the public. Fortunately, the state had done a lot of engineering work because
[to] take a 1947 disaster and have legislation passed in 1948 is not typical of the
way the Corps of Engineers worked. But the Corps was able to take over the
work done by the Everglades Drainage District, which had been working on a
plan for submission to the state legislature. The resulting Corps of Engineerig's
plan was very similar to what the state had done started though the Everglades
Drainage District. So the seed of the project started out with the Everglades
Drainage District and adopted, to a great extent, by the Corps of Engineers in a
very short period of time.

G: As the component parts of the Central and Southern Florida Project were being
put in place, how did that impact life for your family and that of other families
living in the Everglades Agricultural Area?

W: Well, of course, the implementation of the project that was voted in by Congress
in 1948 had a very slow effect on our farming operations. Fortunately, we did not
have the reoccurrence during this time of a 1947-type flood situation, but in the
original works of the district, priority was given to protect people and property.
That resulted in the building of the protective levees for the Gold Coast. Priority
was on protecting people and property because of the early flooding and the
damage that was done there. It took probably a decade to complete the project
so [that] it was fully operative for the agriculture areas and the areas of western
Palm Beach County, and even later for some of the work being done for the
counties north of Lake Okeechobee and other works. It was a long, drawn out
project, but the original work was to protect the people and their property.

G: As the construction of the C&SF system went forward, did the Corps continue to
seek input from the public and from the agricultural industry as it moved forward?

W: Well, during the construction phase, no. At times, when through history there
were modifications or changes, yes, the Corps would come in, the latest being [to
get] public input for the modifications to their original project. The Corps did hold
public hearings. The public hearings held in the last four or five years have been
different types of public hearings than I saw as a young man. Their Recent
hearings by the Corps were primarily to sell a project which they had already
determined was, in their opinion, necessary. Befere,-they In the 1940's, the
CorDs sought the input of the State of Florida, and they got a lot of input from the
Everglades Drainage District, and the public. Atq In the initial hearings that were
held for Everglades restoration, they CorDs seemed to be proponents of a certain
idea, selling their project, rather than genuinely interested in getting public input.

G: And you think that has changed in the more recent restudy process?

W: I am not totally familiar with that because I don't didn't participate. in-that-,but- It
is my understanding that they are now relying on different groups and
committees and-trying to get [the] input of stakeholders. I think it [dated] from
bBack in the 1940s, the Corps genuinely tryiged tried to get input from
stakeholders, to a period -in .hi ch contrasted with the 90's when the Corps was-
trying tried to sell an idea that they had, whether it be water Faceways flowwav
going all the way through the Everglades Agricultural Area or other ideas they
tried to sell. Recently, since and even before WRDA 2000 [Water Resources
Development Act], I think they are now seeking the input of the different

G: At the time the Central and Southern Florida Project was being constructed, were
there any concerns that it might have potentially harmful environmental

W: Anyone who wants an answer to that question should read House Document
643. There is a section that has to do with the possibility of adverse
environmental [consequences], and that probably answers the question better
than I could. My reading says that when the Department of the Interior, the Park
Service and other federal agencies, signed off and approved that document, {i-
dooes have- some reservations in it saying that there could be some adverse
environmental results. However, the good things coming out of it, in om their
opinion, far outweigh these-things the potential negatives. The Department of the
Interior, after considering environmental consequences, approved House
Document 643 in 1948.

G: At what point did people begin to recognize that there were some ecological
problems developing as a result of the Central and Southern Florida Project?

W: I don't know whether there was any real recognition. Bec abuse of fa-ual results,
we We find that in this country there is a growing sentiment to stop growth,
whether it be attacking the timber industry in the Northwest, or whether it be
attacking the agriculture entrepreneurs in the Everglades Agriculture Area aP4d-
the or population growth people and others. There is a continuing anti-agriculture
meed public sentiment, whether it's to sell memberships in environmental
organizations or whatever] the purpose is B I'll leave that up to them. I can take-
ye through recite a whole series of attacks that we have had on agriculture in
the -Evergades the Everglades Agricultural Area has experienced since back in
the early 1960s. Whether these awareness alleged problems in the Everglades
are true-r real, fictional or myths, we tend to think that a lot of the attacks and a
lot of the arguments have been are based on myths. As a matter of fact, we
even published a book, or a folder, prepared a paper in regard to fact and myths
on the Everglades. We find that a lot of these things are thought of, primarily, not
toeget the attacks on agriculture are not for the purpose of finding a good solution
to perceived or actual problems- Instead, it reduces the chances of working
together with regulators and environmental organizations to try to get achieve,
from a scientific and a technical basis, a resolution, rather than to cause
adversity and public fighting. We think the Everglades would be far better served
if we could take the resources that have been spent, on both sides, fighting over
these questions and try to come to some resolution based on fact and scientifi-
resolutio.n of those problems, science rather than politics. An interesting thing is
that no one yet has ever defined what they want the Everglades to look like, and
that is the most glaring thi ( ) that we have. What do we want the
Everglades to look like after restoration?

G: John DeGrove [director, Florida Atlantic University/Florida International University
Joint Center for Environmental and Urban Problems, 1971-present; secretary,
Florida Department of Community Affairs, 1983-1985] once characterized the
ecological problems in South Florida as the product of innocent ignorance.
Would you agree with that characterization?

W: No, I would not.

G: Why not?

W: I think that we have always been aware of how what the Everglades is and was.
I have done a tremendous amount of reading about those the people who
crossed the Everglades back in the 1800s, and I know what it was when I came
here almost seventy years ago- Today and there is still not a good definition of
what we want the Everglades to a restored Everglades should look like. There
are has been a lot of attacks on -what has been done -ut here draining the
Everglades for agricultural and urban purposes because Gertain some historians
have written about the large amount of bird life that was in the Everglades.
[However,] I find in reading, some of those after researching this, the people whe
that crossed the Everglades in the 1800s noted the lack of wildlife and bird life in
the interior regions of the Everglades. History has-;ottaught should teach
people who are living now and fighting the battles of the Everglades to look back
and see what it was like 100 years ago or more. The biggest problem, in any
group talking about the Everglades, is [that] they have not come to a resolution of
what they want the Everglades to look like. Their goals are not set and if you
don't set goals, you will continue to fight over what you want the Everglades to
look like. Some people believe the Everglades should look like it did on a military
map that was published back in the 1800s. Those are unrealistic people. No
more [will you] change the Everglades to look like it did then than you will change
Manhattan to look like it [did] when the Dutch bought owned it. Thereare-
unrealisti. goals of some people. We think the a restored Everglades should try-
to develop diversity contain ecological niches that provide diversity in flora and
fauna. All of the people who recorded history [of the Everglades] back in the
early 1900s or the mid-1800s shewed noted a tremendous amount of ecological
diversity. We think now, that some Some environmental organizations advocates
are going f, o a simple part of trying to define the Everglades as a monoculture of
sawgrass rather than containing to make it all look like that part and not like the
diversity that was there was before the Everglades Agricultural Area was set-up-
and established by Congress.

G: Based on your experiences, what do you see as the two or three most important
issues that need to be addressed in dealing with current problems in the

W: Probably the most important thing that is staring us in the face today is the
establishment of a phosphorous criteriaa criterion for the Everglades. We thRk
believe that some organizations are going down a road that will not be good for
the Everglades. We don't think that all of the Everglades was always a nutrient-
starved ecosystem. We think that part some of the Everglades usedto-be was
and is a nutrient-starved system, but [part] of the Everglades, at least 10 percent,
was-a contained moderate levels of phosphorous impaGted area enrichment. We
think that the historical documentation, the chlorines, and a lot of [other]

information is out there fr [the] scientific and technical basis information is
available documenting that there was a phosphorous gradient going d, wn ,4
beginning at Lake Okeechobee and moving south into the Everglades. That The
historical phosphorous gradient7 is now-is all cultivated land, but if you want to
mimic the diversity that characterized the Everglades historically was-eone, you
would attempt to establish allow for a phosphorous gradient, to some extent, in
the remaining Everglades so that it is not a monolithic area_ Maybe the restored
Everglades should contain it is one that contains the ecological diversity it once

G: Where should our priorities be?

W: Don't forget that there are still five million or so people on the east coast and
many of those are living in what once was defined as the Everglades. Then you
have the agricultural area, and anyone who thinks you're going to turn the
agricultural area back into what it once was is foolhardy because the soil
depletion is such that it will not tur -back resemble the landscape of 100 years
ago. Even if everything was bulldozed flat, it will not turn back into what it once
was. From a realistic standpoint, the opposition has to realize that the historic
Everglades now consists of the Everglades Agricultural Area: is a highly
productive area, [created] by public policy, [and] divided up over an agricultural
area- an east coast area for urban development, water conservation areas, and a
national park to make an area of South Florida that is unique anywhere-as to any
other place in the world. To come in and try to change that today back to the way
it looked in the 1800s, 1 think, is foolhardy. This-whele The present system was
something that -was promulgated by political and governmental policy. a4 It has
been the policy of both the state and federal government starting in 1850 ftgoig]
to 1950n and even beyond and reaffirmed in 1948.

G: To what extent does the current restoration initiative, embodied in the
Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan [CERP] and related projects,
represent a change from earlier management efforts?

W: New you You have to combine several different thigs initiatives together,
whether it be the Everglades Forever Act or whether it's CERP or all of it
together. The overriding question is on water supply for the growing urban
population and for the natural system. In agriculture, we're not asking for
additional growing water supply. The environmental people think they community
believe the natural system, however, needs more water, they'll find out they
probably need less at times- but they need moret wateTr Tand 4ts Additionally. It's
pretty well accepted that with the anticipated population growth on the east coast,
the urban sector is going to demand more water. The greatest thing that is
coming out of CERP and all ofthis is-a its focus on water quantity, so is that we-
don't have the -western it envisions enlarging the water pie to avoid the water
wars that have been so destructive in the wWest. Florida water law is altogether
different from Western water law,- bt it -wil however, that is subject to change if

we start battling with each other over water supply. On water quality, EAA
agriculture is was the first one to come up with their pocketbook and they've-gt-
a to fund stormwater treatment areas. They have a tremendous record to date
of improving water quality and improving the quality of the ..ater that is going into
the natural system. I don't think we get- ear have gotten near enough credit for
what we have done-as achieved thus far as water quality improvements. and-
unlike Unlike any other segments in this whole puzzle of who's affected and
who's not and who's part of the review of the Everglades, agriculture is the only
ene segment that has come up with a technical solution and their pocketbook to
do things to improve water quality. The financial assistance, I think it's some
$287 million a guaranteed minimum of $233 million from agriculture that-has-
gone into helping will help build the STAs [stormwater treatment areas] to treat
100% of agricultural runoff. Additionally, an untold amount has Unaccountable
funtds-have been spent on best management practices Best Management
Practices in the Everglades Agricultural Area, [which has] reduced, just last year,
the amount of phosphorous going into the Everglades protection area by -I th4nk
something like 73 percent with a three year running average of something over
54 59 percent. No other player in the Everglades issues has come up with their
pocketbook and made the gains that we've made in the reduction of
phosphorous into the Everglades protected area.

G: To the extent that change has occurred and is reflected in the South Florida
project and some of the other things you were just describing for me, are there
any specific turning points or watershed events that you see as critical for
promoting that change?

W: I think the most important change was in the consideration of the CERP part of
WRDA i n the halls of Congres. .We were actively involved in that and had a
document that was siged by the env ironmental community, as well as some of
us in agriculture, and [we were] ~ sporting, instead of fighting, each other. IWe
supported a piece of legislation that I thought was the greatest turning point that
we had made. I would characterize our joint support with others, including the
environmental community, of the Everglades provisions in WRDA as watershed
events. Rather than fighting each other, we jointly supported the Comprehensive
Everglades Restoration Program in WRDA 2000, which I thought was a great
turning point in securing good legislation for the Everglades. Historically.
litigation characterized our relationship with the environmental community. Let
me give you an-example some background. Back in the early part of 1988k there
was-a then superintendent of the Everglades National Park by the name of
Michael Finley [president, Turner Foundation, 2001-present; superintendent,
Yellowstone National Park, 1993-2001; former superintendent, Yosemite National
Park; former superintendent, Everglades National Park] met with representatives
of the sugar industry in what we thought was in good faith to resolve their issues
with us. I have always remembered what Senator Spessard Holland [U.S.
Senator from Florida, 1946-1971; Florida governor, 1940-1945] told me one time,
George, just remember when it comes to environmental issues that there may be

[around] 150 farmers in the Everglades (at that time there were 210 million
people in the United States) and when it comes to a fight between the
Everglades National Park and your group of 150 growers in the Everglades, you
better go down and settle your differences with the park in Florida. If it comes up
here, the 210 million people will win every time over your 150. That's just a
political axiom. I remembered that very well. Back in the latter part of 1987 or
early part of 1988, prior to the federal lawsuit filed by Dexter Lehtinen [U.S.
Attorney, Dade County, 1988-1992; Florida state senator, 1987-1988; Florida
state representative, 1981-1987] against the South Florida Water Management
District and DEP, we had already executed held two meetings with Mike Finley:
one of them was in the pPark with our technical people and our scientists, and
one of them was here in this room that we're talking from now. I thought Mike
Finley was a straight shooter and it turned out that he was not. We had agreed
to put our technical people and his technical people together to try to come up
with something that was a recognition of what they outlined as their problems
and what we outlined as our problems, to see if we could come to a consensus. I
remind you, this is before Dexter Lehtinen's litigation. All of a sudden, I think it
was in November, Dexter filed his lawsuit and we had another meeting scheduled
to be in the park with Mike Finley and his scientists. I called Mike and I said,
Mike, what do we do with this lawsuit? Do you want to continue our discussions
and he said, very much so. Only one rule, we can't have any lawyers present
because if you have your lawyers present, I'm going to have to have the federal
lawyers present. I said fine, let's go. We had that meeting and, as a result, I lost
my position as Chairman of iR the industry's Environmental Quality Committee
because it-happensthat some of my committee members were lawyers and I
agreed that no lawyers would be present. couldn't have them. Muc h to m
disadvantage, some of the people that you just recently interviewed, within the
last twenty four hours, saw to it that later I did not represent the industry as the
chairman of the Environmental Quality Committee that I had repres-ented them
[r] sine- 1968. That's when reason and soundness broke up, because Mike
Finley was the one that really got Dexter Lehtinen to bring that lawsuit. He was
dealing on one hand with a committee representing the Florida sugar industry,
and on the other hand he was dealing with the justice department in suing the
district South Florida Water Management District. Although we- agriculture,-were
was not a part of that suit, we were directly affected by that suit and had
tremendos problems in obtaining intervention into the -aws'it. [End Side 1,
Tape A]

G: Why did some of the other sugar companies react negatively to you working with
Mike Finley and the Park Service?

W: Simply because, as members of the industry's committee, they were prohibited
from attending that last meeting, although they had the opportunity to send their
non-lawyer representatives there. That was just one of the vicissitudes of making
a quick agreement with governmental agents without conferring with you're my
committee. I probably should not have thrown that in there, but that is the seed te-

the sugar companies, in some respect, of sugar companies going their own way
in regard to Everglades issues. That was [around] 1988.

G: You talked about passage of WRDA as being a turning point. How do you
think the sugar organization was able to overcome that kind of animosity with the
environmental groups, with the Park Service? How were people able to build
those bridges so you were able to work together for the passage of WRDA?

W: Very skillful working in Washington with our consultants. I think the
environmental community saw that we were making headway, and they
desperately wanted passage of CERP an Everglades provision in WRDA 2000.
and they They wanted te-put their own provisions Ta there.-But However, we
were able to reach compromises when it came right down to the last hour, all of
us saw that it was important to get the environmental, industry and other
stakeholders' approval. There is a document with all of our signatures on it,
saying that we support WRDA 2000 in respect to the Comprehensive E'verglades
Restoration- package encouraging inclusion of a carefully crafted Everglades
provision in WRDA 2000. That, to me, is a historical document even though
some of the signers f-it have not lived up to the views that they expressed with
their signature at that time.

G: Can you explain that a little bit more specifically?

You'll have to get a copy of the document. We've got oneA here in the office, I
could go d"own individually and, without, naming names, tell .you that m Many of
the signers of that document didn't let the ink ceeol -ti dry when they began
backtracking from the language included in WRDA. were out of making very
detrimental statementt about CERP and about ho the-y did not feel that CEDDRP
was a good idea. All of us had our reservations, but CERP is nothing more than
a roadmap to try to get to whatever is going to be good for the Everglades.
There are a lot of pilot projects, a lot of things that have to be proven not only for
the environmental community, but for the agricultural community. But to sign on
to a project that is as important as CERP 4s, and then go out and publicly
denounced~ parts of CERP, was not a proper way to get n E RP'D goal, an
that's [to be] a readmap to get something that is not good for the Everglades and
south Florida, and consequently, not good for the country. It gives fuel and
encouragement to those senators and members of the House in other states that
have their pet projects that they would like to see the dollars that Congress
unanimously I think there were one or two votes against it almost unanimously
voted to send down-here to Florida to do something that's good for the
Everglades. For any of us, and you've not heard this from agriculture, to come in
and start condemning parts of CERP is detrimental, in my opinion, to the
continuation of long-term funding from the U. S. Congress inTthefutre.

Are there any specific individuals that played key leadership roles in moving the
Everglades restoration forward?

In the early days when this was a state matter, following Judge [William]
Hoeveler's [U.S. District Court; judge in Dexter Lehtinen's Everglades lawsuit]
takeover of the case, Florida had to show the federal courts that the state was
going to move ahead, as Judge Hoeveler still holds that case in abeyance. The
chairman of the [Florida] senate Natural Resource Committee, Rick Dantzler
[Florida state senator, 1990-1997; Florida state representative, 1982-1990] from
Winter Haven, Florida, played a key role in bringing the stakeholders, as well as
the legislature, together on what is known as the Everglades Forever Act. That
has been in place for almost eight years now. [As a resultJ ef] that, we find [about
a4 50 to 70 percent reduction in phosphorous into the Everglades protested
protection area from the EAA. We find a4et-ef other things in the Everglades
Forever Act that have at least satisfied the state regulatory people, -but-we We
even get compliments from time to time out of the environmental community
about the reduction of phosphorous, a result of the Act. We get some recognition
of phosphorous reduction from eut-ef the press here in Florida abo-t that. That all
comes as a result of from se e good craftsmanship that Senator Dantzler used
back in 1994.

In 1971, Governor Reubin Askew [Florida governor 1971-1979] called a
governor's conference to address water management issues in the Everglades.
How much of an impact, if any, did that conference have on bringing attention to
Everglades management issues?

W: I have no opinion on that, I really don't know.

In 1983, Governor Bob Graham introduced the Save Our Everglades program.
How would you evaluate the impact of that program and the efforts of then
Governor Graham?

I'm critical of the then governor of the state of Florida because he did that
primarily as a environmental political move, without any prior consultation with
the affected people. He did that without really thinking it through very much. I
can tell you of a personal conversation that I had with him in Tallahassee. I
walked into his office and he had these great big political posters outside his
office saying what he was going to do, and at that time, he had a fellow by the
name of Estus Whitfield [policy coordinator, Office of Planning and Budgeting in
the executive office of Governor Jeb Bush; environmental advisor to Governor
Lawton Chiles and Governor Bob Graham] [working on the agricultural part of his
plan]. They had put strawmen out, that would require requiring farmers to have X
percent of their land [as] holding ponds on their farms, which devastated would
devastate a high-intensive agricultural area like the Everglades Agriculture Area.
I remember two things that I pointed out to the governor at that time. Number
one, Governor, if you want to do that to us here in the EAA, would you be willing
to bulldoze Miami Lakes back in and build holding ponds there, because you're
just as much in the Everglades in Miami Lakes and Pensuco as we are in the

Everglades. Secondly, I said, Governor, you and your brother Bill Graham
operate a dairy over outside of Moore Haven. Would you take the same
percentage of your land to put in holding ponds there? Well, he told me that they
already had holding ponds, which they did not, because we verified that the next
week. The governor didn't even know what existed on his own dairy. So Bob
Graham has been more of an environmentalist and he has not tried to get the
sides together. I have personally tried to meet with him for over a year and he
refused to meet with me in the past and have been unsuccessful. I don't give
Bob Graham much credit for anything in the Everglades, other than stirring the
pot. Once the pot was stirred, a lot more statesmen have come along and made
progress and I think we're making tremendous progress now, with or without Bob

During the 1980s you headed an environmental quality committee for the Florida
Sugar Cane League, what was the purpose of that committee?

In 1968, every CEO of each sugar company got a telegram to cease and desist
the burning of sugarcane. I didn't know, at that time, a fellow by the name of
Nathaniel Reed [Governing Board Member, South Florida Water Management
District]. I first talked to my counterparts in the other sugar companies and they
said, George, go ahead and handle it for us. So I called Nathaniel Reed, a blind
call, and I said, Mr. Reed, you don't know me and I've never met you, but we
have a telegram signed for you by the industrial section of the Florida
Department of Health to cease and desist the burning of sugar cane. and we
We have not had any prior communication in any way. You don't know where we
are and we don't know where you are in this question. Now, there are at least
three or four ways to handle this matter. One would be to go ahead and continue
burning and let your legal people bring some type of action against us in the
courts. Another would be for us to abide by the cease and desist order and--at-
that time, we had a better position with the public and the newspaper were more
favorable then than they were later on. When twenty to thirty thousand people
are thrown out o-f work beIause of our order, I think there could be some
political repercussions when twenty to thirty thousand people are thrown out of
work because of your order. I think there could be some political repercussions.
At that time, we had a better position with the public where the newspapers were
more favorable than they were later on. The third way to handle it is for us to sit
across the table with our technical people and hear both sides, and then come up
with some direction as to the best way to de- accomplish what you want. He
agreed with -me. One of the few good decisions that Nat Reed has made.
By the time we had the meeting, it was in Dr. Carl Brumback's
conference room over at Palm Beach County Health Department because that
was before Nat had been able to build .what .was c-alled then or acquire office
space for his new Department of Pollution Control, DPC I think it was, under the-
elown Governor Claude Kirk [Florida governor, 1967-1971]. We met over the
objection of some of the young people staff that were in the Department of
Health., wh, looked like they had just ,gratd from college. He took We

presented the industry's recommendation at this meeting. andthe The industry's
recommendation was [to] get engage the finest air quality person we could findT
That was Dr. Axel Hendrickson, whose office is was in Gainesville- whoe He had
been the a state regulator ea of the phosphate industry when they were called-on-
the-arpet cited for their emissions of fluorides out of their stacks. That's
something that w've done, as As a policy we try to find the best technical
people we can find, sometimes those technial people they have been on the
other philosophical side of the question, but always good scientists. Dr. Axel
Hendrickson came up with the proposal that I presented to Nat Reed that day
for the industry. and that was that we would put in The proposal was to place
thirty-seven high ba4 volume air sampleng stations throughout think four e-rfive
counties here in South Florida to rea4y determine what the air quality was on a
timed continuous basis. These are continuous amplers, or amplers that [run]
on a c-ontinuous basis. We also said we will get would fund the University of
Florida to do a economic study [on] the harvesting of green sugar cane versus
harvesting of burned sugar cane. We did both of those things and Mr. Reed
accepted the industry's proposal. we We have found that over about thirty-five
years, we have Rever not had a violation of a state or federal air quality
standards parameter a federal air quality parameter. We have new- gene
burned sugar cane for years without any air quality problems. That network is
working as we talk today and is now EPA [Environmental Protection Agency]
approved as well as being DEP [Department of Environmental Protection]
approved. We found, however, the dirtiest air in Palm Beach County is was
measured on the old Bell Telephone building in downtown West Palm Beach. As
a result of that these two studies, we are still burning cane today because [we
had] technical people do the air quality studies, the plume studies and all those
studies that were done not only in the network, but other studies that Dr.
Hendrickson set up to determine whether any of the particulate matter had
fallen out on the populated areas of Palm Beach ,County. That set-up-a
established the industry's policy in environmental matters in the industry. When
we are accused of some wrongdoing, we say, we don't know whether we're
causing this or not, but we'll assure you that we'll get the best minds we can find
to research it from a technical and a scientific basis. If we are causing harm we
will discontinue it or modify our practices so that we come into compliance and, if
we can't, we will stop doing it and we'll be there with our pocketbooks to correct
the damage we've done. That's an outstanding policy that we've had on all the
other matters that I assume we'll talk about today.

G: Does that environmental quality committee still exist?

We are not now members of the Florida Sugar Cane League and I'm not sure
whether they have that committee in existence or not. I can tell you for our
company, the same policy is still in effect. aed--eEven though the committee is
not really functional today outside of the Florida Sugar Cane League, we
endeavor to bring-the-ethe work cooperatively with the other two companies into
on environmental matters. Our staff people work with the staff people of the

other companies and I think it's fair to say that we all have that we all have the
same philosophy. We may not be working through the Florida Sugar Cane
League, but the three major companies do work together on environmental

Earlier you mentioned Dexter Lehtinen's lawsuit, filed in October of 1988. What
was your reaction, and the reaction within the sugar industry in general, to that

Well, we were very disappointed that Mike Finley didn't keep his word. At the
same time he was negotiating with us, he was alsocausing-the bringing forward
a lawsuit that Dexter Lehtinen filed., but Mike Finley was behind that lawsuit. So
[our reaction] was one of disappointment. Secondly, there was a great effort
made on the part of the Federal Government to keep the affected parties from
obtaining intervention, so we, as an industry, were precluded from being an full
intervener in that lawsuit. We appealed it to the federal district court in Atlanta
and they gave us partial intervention, but it was at such a late date, within just a
few days Governor [Lawton] Chiles [Florida governor 1991-1998 (died in office);
U.S. Senator from Florida, 1971-1989] went in to federal court and surrendered
his sword. We would have liked to have put the facts on the table in that
litigation. At the time, we felt very strongly that we had an excellent case as an
intervener against Dexter Lehtinen's lawsuit, but when the Governor surrendered
his sword, that was for that particular event, as far as our
participatie it excluded the South Florida Water Management District and
interveners from presenting their case to the court. We had two reactions. One
was that Mike Finley had deceived us, and second, the federal government
fought our intervention into the lawsuit, to say nothing of Governor Chiles

In early 1990, at the same time this litigation was unfolding, the South Florida
Water Management District introduced the SWIM [Surface Water Improvement
Management] plan for improving water quality in the Everglades. Give me your
overall evaluation of the SWIM process and the proposals that the Water
Management District was making as part of that process.

If my memory serves me correctly, the District had started the SWIM planning
process., the SWIM plan for the whole system of the one for the Everglades, net-
just and another plan for Lake Okeechobee., prir to the lawsuit and that the
lawsuit interrupted the, I think, The genuine and good efforts of the dDistrict to
address the problems Dexter wanted to address in his same concerns outlined in
the lawsuit were put on hold while the litigation was being fought.

Do you think it would have been possible to have reached an agreement on the
water quality issue, going through the SWIM process, if the litigation hadn't

I do, definitely. There was great progress being made toward that end
and I suspect there were people in the background who felt they could get a
better deal in litigation. That's what promulgated the filing and making this whole
subject a litigious subject. Now, [it] has proven that we have shown great
progress in [working] with the regulators [and working] with the opposition, who
refuses to work with us at times. I feel the advice that the law firm of Skadden,
Arps [law-firm] had given the Water Management District Board was [that] if the
governor had not laid down his sword, Skadden, Arps advised the District that
they the District could win the case. If they had won the case, I'm quite sure that
we would have made better progress than we have made under a litigious type
atmosphere. Ground rules [would have been] set down to come up with
something that would probably be better than what we have now, and we would
have gotten the benefit of it far in advance of what litigation has caused: a delay
and a delay and a delay. But no one will ever know, no one will ever know the
real answer to that. But I do know for a fact that Skadden, Arps advised the
Water Management District [that] we they could've have won r eill win this the
lawsuit. Although those things are not certain, I think bringing the federal
government in such a prominent role in something that is traditionally a state's
role has [caused] delay and delay and delay.

In September of 1990, Governor Bob Martinez [Florida governor, 1987-1991]
organized a closed-door meeting in which a temporary compromise was
reached, providing that sugar growers would contribute forty million dollars for
Everglades cleanup under a SWIM plan based on taxes levied on sugar
members. Why did the sugar growers later back away from that agreement?

We were never a part of that agreement. I refused to attend that meeting. I
knew the meeting was taking place and I said that Governor Martinez is off-base,
that's not the way you do business in the state of Florida and I was opposed to it.
Even though invited, I refused to go te-t. So don't ever say that we backed off of
something; we never were a part of it.

In July of 1990, the federal and state agencies involved with the lawsuit
initiated by Dexter Lehtinen reached a settlement agreement. Why were the
sugar growers opposed to this federal-state agreement and the accompanying
consent decree?

For many reasons. As a group that was probably more affected than any
other group, we were not a part of the agreement. We were not consulted. We
felt that it would make [the] subject drag over many years, and we felt that better
progress could be made, if in fact, we were in there and part of it, as we were in
the Everglades Forever Act and CERP and those things. I think we will show the
public that if we don't have a controversial thing, something that we all have a
hand in, with our pocketbook and with our participation, we'll make a lot more
progress than we will in dealing under a litigious type arrangement atmosphere.

G: How involved were you, personally, in the negotiations that led to the Statement
of Principles Agreement that was announced by interior secretary Bruce Babbitt
in July 1993?

Absolutely none. We were not invited to be a participant. I sent our
environmental lawyer up to try to crash the gates and they refused his
participation. He sat in the lobby while the rest negotiated that.

G: Why do you think you were excluded from that process?

Probably excluded because I we had pretty strong feelings in regard to
what the right thing is was to do. Some of those who participated ti-it were
somewhat neutered in their further participation in other things matters
here in the state of Florida.

G: Did that create any division within the sugar industry between the Sugar Growers
Cooperative and U. S. Sugar and Flo-Sun?

Well, I don't think U. S. Sugar was involved. Flo-Sun was the one that
made the agreement. All I can tell you is that we were disappointed ti-
that, however, we are that-saw-e group continuing to work with them and
we Rew have now formed partnerships in many business arrangements.
We own four refineries al4-ver in the United States together and we work
very closely together. Even though we were disappointed that [it] kept
them from participating in following discussions and matters of importance
to concerning the Everglades-= wWe understand probably why they did it
and don't really hold that against them. We -woud like their assistance in
other things which they agreed to stay out o f, but. wWe're good business
partners in many things we do. As a matter of fact, they are a member of
the oe-op Cooperative.

G: How would you evaluate the state's 1994 Everglades Forever Act?

We were very supportive of the Act and we still support it. We think that
we, in agriculture, have lived up to the things requirements in that act Act.
We're paying our acreage assessment to pay for our part of the regional
water treatment program, the STAs and so forth. We think that the EFA is
contrasted with doing things by litigation, as [opposed] doing it n-der a We
support well spelled-out programs as-te that define what we and others
should do in improving our operations, whether it be in BMPs [best
management practices] or any of the other things that we're required to
do. Our-great One disappointment is that others who are probably may be
causing more pollution to the Everglades are not singled out to be there
with their pocketbooks. We think that even though they pay an ad
valorem tax, and I guess people who ride the drive on Alligator Alley
[highway], part of their toll fee goes to support that, the Everglades

Construction Project, we think there are a lot of other people on the east
coast and north of Lake Okeechobee that should participate in a more
meaningful way.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas [Florida environmental activist; author of The
Everglades: River of Grass] refused to have her name placed on the
Everglades Forever Act. Why were many environmental groups, along
with the Miccosukee Tribe, so critical of this agreement at that time?

Because they didn't get their complete way. In anything We Gdo, if we ,don't
get our complete way, we find that inP the Everglades issues there's
tradeoffe But sSensible people will try to reach an agreement to do
something. We find that some organizations, if they don't get their
complete way, they w'l- back-eff don't support anything at all. Marjory
Stoneman Douglas was a lovely lady. She lived to be, I think, 104. I
debated Marjory Stoneman Douglas and I knew her well, and if she didn't
get her complete way in a debate or anything, she was a very disturbed
woman. And Marjory Stoneman Douglas was wrong in a lot of her views,
but she was a lovely eld lady. and my advisors tell me not to attack
Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

G: Do you think the environmental community, in recent years, has become more
compromising than ten years ago or at the time that this law was passed?

We thought that might be true [in regard] to the passage of the CERP part
of WRDA. But I can tell you from personal experience, I have made
efforts to meet with Mary Barley [environmentalist; chair, Everglades
Foundation, Save Our Everglades]. I have taken Mary to dinner with her
attorneys and tried to establish an ongoing dialogue. We have found that
has been impossible to do. She even wanted to argue that she had more
Turkeys .n her ran.h than I didl. She's a very attractive young lady, but
she is highly emotional passionate person with strong convictions, and
one [with] which I have not seen anybody ;n the environmental community
ry-te we have found it impossible to sit down and talk reason and

G: Some critics have asserted that the sugar industry should pay more than the
one-third of the cost that it is committed to pay for implementing the first phase of
the Everglades Forever Act. How do you respond to that?

I respond to that [by saying] if those people who proposed that had their
way, they would wat to make the sugar industry uneconomical 6o it
would go away. One of the tools in their tool box is to attack us on an
economic basis, hoping that we will fail and go aw'ay. If the environmental
community would come to the table with their checkbook, as we have, we
will match them. In response to your question, the way the cost was

derived for agriculture resulted in about a twenty-five dollar-an-acre
assessment per year, over a span of several years. That generated funds
to pay [for] 100 percent of the facilities necessary to treat all of the water
that comes off of the EAA agricultural lands. We were not asked, as some
would like us to do, to pay for the treatment of water that comes out of
Lake Okeechobee, that is bypass water to the Everglades protection area,
or pay for the treatment of water that comes in from Davie, Weston e
Wellington or other areas. We thought that it would be very unfair to
require us to treat the water that is already high in phosphorous in Lake
Okeechobee or that came off of other areas outside the Everglades
agriculture Area. I respond to that [by saying] if those people who
proposedthat If critics had their way, they would want to make the sugar
industry uneconomical so it would go away. One of the tools in their tool
box is to attack us on an economic basis, hoping that we will fail and go
away. If the environmental community would come to the table with their
checkbook, as we have, we will match them.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection along with Governor
[Jeb] Bush [Florida governor, 1999-present] recently expressed their
support for a ten parts-per-billion phosphorous standard for water entering
the Everglades. In your view, is the ten parts-per-billion standard

Absolutely not, in the whele entire Everglades. It may be, and I'm net sure
[abeutthis]- even too low for the unimpacted areas. Our technical people
tell us that a standard of about sixteen ppb for the unimpacted areas is the
right number. We think the Everglades Forever Act calls for a differene-
in handling different standard in the impacted areas. and that This would
be an area which is probably 6 percent of the total remaining Everglades.
Under the natural system, before agricultural cultivation was granted in
the Everglades ever came here, about 10 percent of the Everglades, at
that time, [was] impacted with natural phosphorous moving out of Lake
Okeechobee. that were in the That area supported custard apple, the
willows and these-things other woody growth, which in turn supported bird
and wildlife. We think that should be reintroduced to make part of the
Everglades like it was historically in the impacted areas. The impacted
areas under the Everglades Forever Act has a provision of en4y calling for-
wheatwe-Gall a net improvement ANet Improvement@. Net improvement,
in our opinion, is a reduction in the amount of phosphorous, so that
eventually, that area would not be impacted as it has been in the last fifty

G: Does the law allow for different standards in different parts of the

Qh-yYes. There are also examples [in] both federal and state [laws],
where wetlands have different standards within the same wetlands. [That
is] our legal advice. That's something that's now being contested with bv
those that don't believe that it does, but our legal advisors tell us it
definitely allows for different standards in different basins areas and there
are examples of that existing today.

Do you think that alternative is being given serious consideration by the
officials who will be making the final decision?

I think they will give [it] serious consideration. We, at the GCooperative, in-
the indu-stry are the only ones iOn the industrG, that are really pushing for
advocating what we call a bifurcated standard. We have the technical
basis for it. There's a tremendous amount of research that has been
done, both from an ecological standpoint and from a legal standpoint. We
think a bifurcated standard is good for the Everglades. We feel that others
are beginning to see the wisdom of this approach.

The Everglades Forever Act also requires the use of best management
practices. In practical terms, what does that mean for the way sugar is
produced in the Everglades?

There's a whole laundry list of things [done by] each one of the farms out
here wh has practices the farmers can select from to qualify for a BMP
permit which is issued and is regulated by the Water Management District.
Such things as how much fertilizer you apply, on what basis you apply it,
how you apply it, the results of it or what they consist of and other
practices that reduce phosphorous runoff in drainage water.

In terms of the practice of sugar production what does best management
practices mean and then what are the results of that?

It means those things that I named. In other~words addition, leveling your
fields, ditch bank improvements so you don't get partiGle surface runoff
and erosion, [with] fertilizers, using soil analysis and to gauge fertilizer
application, which normally means a reduction in the amount of
application -f fertilizer applied. It just so happens that with sugarcane,
very little, if any, phosphorous is used in the cultivation of cane. Many
timesTthere is enough phosphorous already available. How you apply the
fertilizer [is changed], in other words stop flying it on by [using] aircraft
because it would go in the ditches. How you transport fertilizer to the fields
and how you transfer it to your distributors so you don't get spillage and
runoff. How you pump your canals, whether you pump them at high
velocity or low velocity, or at high elevation and low elevation because that
makes a difference in the amount of particulate phosphate that goes out of
your pump station. There's a whole list of items that the farmer [who]

signs up for his permit [says] that he will embrace and follow. Now, the
result of that, is [that in] the last three years we have shown, I thik-, [a] 57
a 59 percent reduction in phosphorous where the Everglades Forever Act
calls for a 25 percent reduction. This past year, we had the highest
reduction at 73 percent, and that's reduction from what? Reduction from
the base period, the years that preceded the implementation of best
management practices.

What was your reaction to the effort by the Save Our Everglades group in
1996 to enact a constitutional amendment, Amendment IV, that would
have imposed a penny-per-pound tax on sugar production to raise funds
for Everglades restoration?

You couldn't even ask that question with a straight face, you smiled while
you were asking imt. You .know the answer to that. We opposed it [for] one
simple reason. That would probably have put this company and other
companies, or at least a lot of our farmers, out of business, which in turn
would put this company out of business. One cent-a-pound doesn't sound
like very much, but to this company, who now is producing 400,000 tons,
and if you multiply that out, a cent-a-pound would be a little over eight
million dollars a year for this company. It would have meant economic
ruination of the sugar industry, but keep in mind that's part of the game
plan of our opponents, to put us out of business [to get us] out of the

Do you believe this was done, not to raise money for restoration, but
specifically to put you out of business?

We believe the overriding [idea] was to make it economically unattractive
to sugarcane production to exist in the Everglades Agricultural Area. That
was number one on their list. From a public standpoint, one cent-a-pound,
you know my wife says that's nothing. Take that times 400,000 tons of
sugar and taking the whole sugar industry down here, [producing] almost
2 million tons, so it would have been devastating to the industry.

Why did the sugar growers decide to focus their efforts pretty much
primarily on defeating Amendment IV while largely ignoring Amendment V,
the so-called polluter pays amendment, which passed?

That's a good question and that question was asked during the campaign.
and -eOur legal advice was that that question can go to the state
legislature whenever they want to take it up. The [focus was on the] real
damaging one, to beat the one that would cause us economic ruination.
So we concentrated on one, we forgot about the other-. didn't speak about
the other two. In retrospect, the Supreme Court agrees with us that eur the
advice we had from our legal people was sound advice. We concentrated

on one and were more successful than we thought we were going to be.
We had good polling on a daily basis and we won that election in the last
tweodays couple of weeks. And what helped us win it? I think the
unreasonable ads that were run by our opposition helped us
tremendously, a desperate effort at the-end showing dead deer floating
and those kinds of things. That turned the public off and we thanked them
ended up benefitting by their unreasonableness, which helped us.

G: In that campaign, both sides spent more money than any other campaign in
Florida history and it was fairly bitter in content. How is it possible to get past
that bitterness and forge a working relationship with the environmental
community as part of the restudy and to push for this certain plan in Congress?

I was always taught that when someone strikes you, as they did us, you
turn the other cheek. We have not attacked the environmental people.
We have tried to sit down with them and forge a working relationship,
because only then can we do what's right for the Everglades. If we-had
taken the millions of dollars that were spent on that campaignthey-
could've bee1 n a small part, at least, of this were part of the eight billion
dollar project-: Wwe could've contributed to that and done something
good more productive for the Everglades, rather than for the television
stations and newspapers of the state of FAlorida.

Citing problems with soil loss, a recent U. S. Geological Survey report
concluded that Agriculture as currently practiced in the Everglades has a
finite life expectancy, likely on the order of decades.@ How long can
sugar production be effectively sustained in the Everglades Agricultural

I graduated frAom college from college in 1950 and the secretary of the Soil
SciOence Society of Florida, which I think i Still in existence, Dr. Arby
All .Mn (as a matter o-f fact, he was my godfather), listen-ed to myr
arguments. He was on the other side of the equation anpd talked about the
subsidence of organic -oils in the Everglades. -Based upon arguments
with me, he put me on the program to debate with the authors of a paper
that came out in 1951. One of the au-thors still lives in Fort Lauderdale
and I see from +ime t +ime His ut++terances saying that he was kind of the
[author] of the bible on subsidence and if it w.e; e re n't for one little thing, he
could've been right. I was a lot brighter than I am now, because I'd just
gotten out of college. I used an example, because we had ten feet of soil
in most of the upper Everglades, and argued that as long as there was
somewhere in the order of 85 90 percent of the organic soils, the histalls
consisted of inorganic material, only organic material would eventually be
gone. In ten feet of soil, if all the organics left, we would ll stlhave twelve
inches, Pwe'd have one fGoot of soil. AS long as we could anchor the roots
of the plants, we had the solar period here w e had the right temperature,

Pwe. had the finest water supply system on a flat surface, we had all o1f the
ingredients, we could still apply the nutrients even if the nitrogen was
gone. We could wind up with what was then n infant industry called
hydropenis .G I graduated from college in 1950. At that time, the
secretary of the Soil Science Society of Florida, which I think is in
existence today, was Dr. R. V. Allison. Dr. Allison was a life-long friend
who did the original work on subsidence of Everglades soil. He was kind
enough to listen to my arguments against the prevailing wisdom on that
subject at that time. As a result, he asked me to debate the author of a
paper by John C. Stephens and Lamar Johnson entitle ASubsidence of
Organic Soils in the Upper Everglades Region of Florida@ at their annual
meeting. This paper predicted that the rate of subsidence would continue
at the same rate as the record period. Also, that most of the EAA soils
would be abandoned by 1990 and 100% would be abandoned by 2000. I
used two arguments to show why their paper was in error. First, if all of
the organic where lost, we would still have 1 to 1 2 feet of inorganic soil
to anchor the roots of plants. At that time, the upper Everglades had
approximately 10 feet of muck that was 85-90% organic, therefore, the 10-
15% inorganic soil would remain. As long as we could anchor the roots of
the plant, we had the solar period necessary, we had the right
temperature, we had the finest water system on a flat surface and we
could supply the nutrients. We could wind up with what was then an infant
industry, called hydroponics farming, with 12 to 18 inches of soil to anchor
the roots.
The Everglades Agricultural Area will still be producing agricultural
commodities on a commercial basis as long as we have enough soil to
anchor our roots, whether there's any organic material in there or not.
That was one argument. Second argument was that my professor in soils
at Michigan State, and-we-had which had its own muck farms at-M4ihigan ,
a lot -f oganic fields in Mi;hig;an, argued that organic material is prima
facie evidence that it's been a nutrient sink, under water wet conditions,
over a long period of time. The fact that there-is Everglades muck soils
exist there shows that nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, plus all-the-other
needed minor elements, have been coming in there to the Everglades for
a long period of time before the area was drained. That told me, under the
conditions we have now, anyone that argues that agriculture is
responsible for the nutrients that are in the organic soils forgets that those
soils built up over 5,000 years before white man ever-get-here cultivated
the soil. There have been nutrients going in to building these soils over
that period of time. That was not part of my argument back then, I
digressed. The second argument that I had then was [something] my
professor also said, that the easily oxidizable organic compounds that
make up a-histal histisols (organic muck) are the first that will be attacked
by the microorganisms, and that which remains is more resistant to
microbial action.

When Clayton Stephens and Stevenson Lamar Johnson wrote
their b4be paper back in 1951, their charts had a straight line going down on a
graph, and they predicted that in that document that 80 percent of the
commercial agricultural production in the Everglades Agricultural Area would
cease by the year 1980. by the year 2000, 100 percent of the soils in the
Everglades Agricultural Area would be abandoned to commercial agricultural
production. History has proven them wrong. As I loo back on it, there was
great exaggeratin [anrd] now, Now, however others are they're coming out and
saying in a few decades it will be gone. And tIhey may be right fem it about
agriculture being gone, but it will be for other reasons other than having a base to
anchor the roots, because we have all of the other essential elements for plant
growth here. You may call it hydroponics, you may all it something else. The
things that will move us out of here are, one, there will be so many people
moving to Florida that the water supply would really be hurt and politically our
water supply could be taken away from us. That would move us out quicker than
anything else. Number two, as this land becomes more valuable, and we may
have gated communities and condos growing out here, which I think will be
worse for the Everglades than anything else. Or, number three, politically, our
enemies would say we're going to tax you to death and move you out from an
economic standpoint. The other thing would be [if] the economics of sugar are
such that we would be forced to shut down our plants and go out of business. So
those are the reasons, not because of soil subsidence. Anyone who says that
really should go back and review the literature. That's what we do, if we don't
learn from our mistakes then we're bound to commit reeat them again. Bt-we-
were supposed to have been out of here, 80 percent of us out of here, in 1980,
according to Stevenson and Clayton, I believe it was, who published that report.

Some conservation groups have criticized the federal sugar subsidy
recently, stating that the continuation of the subsidy will do Aprofound and
significant harm to the Everglades and increase sugar prices.@ How do
you respond to that criticism?

Well, even Senator Graham and a number of our opponents agree with
m-e us that sugarcane is the most aseeptable environmentally friendly crop
in the Everglades, [if] you have to-have a crop there. Far better than
condos. We have a lot of people that agree that a plant that takes in
carbon dioxide and gives off oxygen is good for the atmosphere. We get a
lot of agreement that if any use is made of this land that sugar is probably
the most compatible crop to be here. We're not fearful that political
pressure will stop us from growing sugarcane here because there's a lot of
agreement on the environmental side that sugarcane is probably more
acceptable than any other agricultural pursuit or development.

Could the South Florida sugar industry remain economically viable if
federal sugar subsidies were eliminated or substantially reduced?

The question is wrong because you [assume] that we have subsidies.
The only thing that the sugar industry has is a limitation on the amount of
foreign imports that can come in-here into the U.S. market. We also have
a program whereby we can put take loans out on e~w sugar that's in the
warehouse, it has to be in a warehouse to qualify. And if the government,
in their policy, allows too much foreign sugar to come in or if the producers
produce too much sugar, [and] the price is below what we call forfeiture
level, which is a level which is unprofitable, then we can forfeit that sugar
to GCommodity GCredit GCorporations. It's what is called a nonrecourse
loan. So if you take a mortgage out on your house and you can't pay your
mortgage, they have a right to repossess your home, and that's the same
thing that we have on sugar. If you want to call a loan program with a
nonrecourse tean clause, or if you want to call import control from sugar
that is produced and dumped on the world market as a subsidy, we have
subsidy. But we don't have any other subsidies.
The opposite thing happened to u .s year before last. Under
Freedom to Farm, Tthe federal government paid out, in cash, to farmers
of other crops in the United States, something like seventy-two billion
dollars in direct payments. That hurt us because they allowed the growers
of what we call program crops, to take their cash payments from the
government and to not plant whatever a program crop it-might-be, whether
it be corn, soybean, barley, oats, or whatever. They ean take took that
money and planted sugar beets, and that caused the overproduction of
sugar beets in the Rioe-Gande Red River Valley. In Louisiana, they took
the government money that they madet-e were paid for not planting rice-
[their] set aside, and increased their sugar cane production about 50
percent in Louisiana. They took their set-aside money on cotton in the Rio
Grande Valley of Texas and increased their sugar cane production by
about 50 percent. They took subsidies to on other crops and camein-and-
caused overproduction used the set-aside land to overproduce sugar,
which caused us, in the last two years, [to have] the lowest price of sugar
that we've had in twenty years. [In regard to] government subsidization,
the subsidizing of the program crops in cash has hurt the Florida sugar
industry. We were unable to get that corrected in the new farm bill, which
I think will hbe votd into la. Ho pefully, today became law this Spring.

After a ten year effort, the federal government, in 1998, was able to move
forward with the purchase of the Talisman land holdings. Why did the
Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative, along with the Florida Crystals
Corporation file a lawsuit to prevent that sale?

The three sugar companies joined together because they the federal
government had not followed their own rules on the NEPA [National
Environmental Policy Act] provisions, and we said that government had to
follow the same rules that we, as private companies, had to follow on the
hanges do. They had to go through a NEPA procedure. We wanted to

slow it down, to be frank with you. We wanted to slow the process down
because we were not sure what was involved in the whole transaction. It
was a pretty fluid situation and we, personally, had been talking with the
Department of the Interior, with the Water Management District. When we
saw that they were not following federal law, we said, we'll slow it down.
The basis of our lawsuit was to prevent them from just going ahead
without following their own rules.

Were you personally involved in any of the negotiations that tried to settle
that litigation over Talisman?

I was involved in a lot, but not all, of the negotiations.

Can you talk to me a little bit about the process of those negotiations
beyond the NEPA issue? What were some of the central issues of
discussion and how was a final settlement produced?

The main concern with both U. S. Sugar and with Florida Crystal was to
acquire Talisman lands that could be traded for some lands that
were being lost to the Everglades Construction Project they had further
south so that the laterr e Ma"nagement District, would have land to build
S3 and. S1 on and maybe [for] othe. r needs the district r-. ..ould have. T Se
Talisman lands consisted of not only what was called the main plantation,
but of lands that were not adjacent to, but further north, and probably more
desirable for sugarcane production. Therefore, those two companies had
a keen interest in what was done to effectuate trades of lands that were
needed for the projects that were on the board, for lands that were up
closer to their sugar mills. The way that Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative
got involved is-that even though we didn't have any lands to effectuate a
trade with the government, [but} we had did have a fairly close relationship
with the management of St. Joe Paper Company. Through our
relationship with St. Joe Paper Company, we acquired two sections if and
a lease of three sections of land without having land to trade.

Who were some of the key people involved in those negotiations?

Don Carson [executive vice president, Florida Crystals Corporation] was
key from the Florida Crystals group. I think [Malcolm] Bubba Wade [senior
vice president, U. S. Sugar Corporation] was key, along maybe with
[Robert] Buker [senior vice president, U. S. Sugar Corporation] and their
attorney Bob Marara Muraro. I was involved as far as for Sugar Cane
Growers Cooperative. On the side [of the] Water Management District,
Bill Malone [director, Construction and Land Management, South Florida
Water Management District] was key. Bill Leary [associate director for
natural resources, Council on Environmental Quality; senior counsel to
Secretary of Interior, Bruce Babbitt] was the key [person] for the federal

side. I met with all of them before and after the agreement ef bv the fFeds
and the [water management] district to buy Talisman from St. Joe Paper
Company. I was involved before and after St. Joe Paper Company made
an agreement with the feds and the [water management] district. But I
was not involved in a lot of the details in regard to the land trades, where
U. S. Sugar and Florida Crystals had lands that they wanted to trade to
improve their situation as far as cane supply was concerned. What one
should remember when you're dealing with sugarcane, you're dealing with
a high volume of units, and your cost in harvesting and processing are
directly affected by the number of units. In other words, t-hs in our mill fa}-
which we grind over three million to 3.6 million [tons] in cane annually, if
you reduce that by a million, our cost per unit goes up. So we're very
possessive of our cane supply and that's what the three companies were
in this for, to protect their cane supply.

How important was the involvement of Governor Chiles in reaching the
settlement on Talisman?

I know of no intervention that Governor Chiles made personally. He could
have [been], behind the scenes, but I'm not familiar with Governor Chiles's
involvement at all in the Talisman situation. I should correct [myself]. I
gave an answer that he was never involved, to my knowledge, and I know
one time he was there. [He] should have been involved but he was-n-la-la
land during that conference declined to play a meaningful role.

G: How important was the creation of the Governor's Commission for a
Sustainable South Florida by Lawton Chiles in 1994?

From my viewpoint, we were never really represented on that group.
Viewing it from the outside, I thought it was political, the person that he
appointed from agriculture very seldom attended a meeting and then later
appointed his assistant. Of course, that was a political body and
agriculture was represented on a minority basis, a very minority basis.
Nelson Fairbanks [CEO, U. S. Sugar Corporation] got a political
appointment originally, but could not attend, [so] Bubba Wade took his
place and did an excellent a good job. If a person on a singular basis with
a large group can do a job, I think Bubba was responsible for keeping
them from going too far eff into left field. bba was outvoted on many,
may -thiLng. It was a political makeup with agriculture representation and-
really the stakeholders ,were at a minority_ but Bubba was, however,
successful in moderating some of the radical ideas that were put forward
in that commission.

Did you ever express an interest at the time of wanting to participate on
that commission?

Never, because we knew it was a political appointment job and we weren't
asked, nor did we ask.

Ultimately, that commission came up with a conceptual plan that all the
different parties agreed to. What was your evaluation of the conceptual
plan that the Governor's Commission approved, including Malcolm Wade,
with his support?

I don't remember exactly [what] items were in there. My memory says that
Malcolm, along with some outside of agriculture, an attorney from Ft.
Lauderdale and one or two others, were able to get some moderating
language in the document and I give credit to Malcolm for doing that. I
don't remember the details at all, I just have kind of an overall, conceptual
idea that the committee was heavy-weighted to the environmental and
government sides, with agriculture having a super-minority position or
representation, but Bubba did a good job getting some moderating

How would you evaluate the restudy process that led to the development
of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan?

From our viewpoint, it had a rocky start. There was really a lack of
representation of the agriculture side until the state of Florida retained
Tom MacVicar [former deputy director of the South Florida Water
Management District]. Tom had a seat on the Alternative Technical
Evaluation (ATE) team and knew the District and its operation better than
anyone that was there, and they wound up with, under the circumstances,
about as good a document as we could expect.

Did you feel that the views of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative were
being given adequate consideration as the process went along by the
corps of engineers U.S. Army Corps of Engineers?

I think so. We developed other inroads into meeting with key people,
Corps of Engineers, Water Management District, and those people who
were driving the ship. We established our own communication system
with individuals versus large committees.

G: Are there specific people that you could identify for me from the Sugar Growers
Cooperative that may have participated in the restudy process? Was there
anyone on one of the restudy teams, the alternative evaluation team or the
alternative development teams?

I don.-'t believe Awe had anybody o the actual teams themelve.A Tom
MacVicar represented a coalition of agricultural interests on the AET. Our
effectiveness was probably [in] dealing with individuals at the Corps,

individuals at the District. We don't know of any private groups or
stakeholders that were allowed to have representation, so we had to deal
through governmental representatives. It just happened in the case of
Tom MacVicar, [that] he was representing the Commissioner of
Agriculture for the state of Florida. That gave us an inroad as to what was
going on. Also, the representative of the Commissioner of Agriculture has
been very good in communicating with the agriculture industry of the
activities that are going on in this and other committees and commissions.

What was your view of the so-called chief's report that was written by
Lieutenant General Joe Ballard [commanding general, U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, 1996-2000] and accompanied the Comprehensive Plan to

We thought that was a document which the environmental community was
able to get the Chief to write after the fact. We thought it was not very
professional on his part to do it. We think that was something that should
not have happened and I think it was an embarrassment to the Corps.

G: What were the specific parts of the Chief's Report that you disagreed

The problem with the Chief's Report was [that] the Department of the
Interior [was] probably pushed by the environmental rganizati-ons
National Park Service to get the an additional 245,000 acre-feet of water
guaranteed eff the tep to them to the Park. That did not appear in the so-
called Yellow Book, which was the basis upon which consensus, to some
degree, had been achieved. We thought it was a last-minute effort to
undermine the negotiations and agreements that had been made prior and
it was not very well taken by a lot of stakeholders that such a tactic would
be used.

You talked earlier about the fact that the effort to get WRDA 2000
enacted, to get the CERP plan enacted in that law was a very collegial
process. How much tension did the fight over the Chief's report cause
among the different groups who had previously been working together on

If I recall correctly, the Chief's report was early on, maybe in 1999 and
when legislation took place in 2000, the Chief's report was completely
disregarded. It was not a part of the legislation and, if my memory serves
correctly, the enviro saw thle lo, of the Chief's report .and in an effort to
make sure that CERP didRn't gGo down the drain, they felt that it .was
necessary to j.oin 'A ;ith all the other parties and support CERP and WR\AIDA
2000. That's where we got the good working relationships, during that
period of time going up to actual passage. But the Chief's report had met

its death probably a year or so before legislation +tok place. created
confusion and dissension in the process which led to a decision to conduct
a feasibility study on whether the Park needed more water. WRDA 2000
authorized the feasibility study.

G: What concerns, if any, did you have as Congress began to develop legislation for
authorizing the comprehensive plan?

We supported the idea of enlarging the water pie, enlarging the amount of
water because we're looking at not only the needs for the natural system,
but our big concern is the east coast and their demands as population
grows. So we were more concerned with water supply than we were with
any other matter, and I think that if it gets to the point where the factions
start fighting [over] water, whether it be agriculture, the natural system, or
the people over the east coast, the people on the east coast are going to
win out every time. And it's to our interest to make sure that a
reevaluation of the whole system is done, primarily looking at water

How actively involved were you personally in the effort to try to get WRDA
2000 passed by Congress?

I walked the halls for several days on several occasions, but I wouldn't say
I was heavily involved, personally. I probably met with a handful of pretty
influential people that were probably instrumental in getting WRDA passed
in the Senate. We went over and met with influential Congressmen just
prior to the passage in the House and [also met with] staff members. I can
say this with not too much fear of being wrong, we had a consultant that
probably was instrumental in bringing the environmental group in with the
other stakeholders and getting the signatures, asking the committees of
both houses to pass CERP, and I give him, personally, a lot of credit for
bringing diverse parties together. That was Dawson and Associates, Bob
Dawson [associate director, Office of Management and Budget; Assistant
Secretary of the Army for Civil Works; Deputy Assistant Secretary of the
Army for Civil Works, 1981-1985], who had been in government prior to
being a consultant.

Are there any other specific individuals that you'd like to identify as having
played key roles in getting WRDA 2000 enacted?

W: Other than Bob Dawson?

G: Yes.

Well, of course, the chairman of the committee in the Senate [Senator Bob
Smith, Republican, U.S. Senator from New Hampshire, 1990-present;

chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, 1999-
2001]. As far as industry is concerned, I don't think I could point out any
one individual. There are a lot that played a part of people that played
instrumental roles, but from the industry standpoint, our key front man was
Bob Dawson.

How important do you think the influence of Governor Jeb Bush was in
that process?

I'm not familiar at all with Governor Bush's extra activities in helping us or
helping anybody else with passage. We tried to stay in touch with his staff
and get support, but as I recall, there .wre mixed vibes coming out of hio
staff at the time.

G: How would you evaluate the final plan that was approved in the Water Resources
and Development Act of 2000?

We think that there are a lot of proposals that will have to be proven out
through pilot projects. We think the plan is a roadmap [to] get there.
We're not sure that all of the roads are paved roads. We think that the
ideas put forward there, some of them are pretty new and novel, and until
they are proven out through pilot studies, we don't know if they will they
work or not. We have been very careful not to say that they won't work
because we want all of those ideas to have a fair hearing and a very fair
chance for the pilot projects that they're planning to do. We do know that
the overall goal of enhancing the water supply to all users in South Florida
is a good goal. Such things as recharge and recovery Aquifer Storage
and Recovery (ASR) wells are new and novel, but we don't know whether
they're going to be viable. Unless all of the ingredients that go into the
major projects are proven to be viable solutions to a water supply concern,
we are dubious of changing things around as far as water use going to
certain users, whether it be people on the east coast, or agriculture, or the
natural system. Until we see the whole system working somewhat in
harmony, any one of these items could have a material effect on the
success of the overall program. So we look forward with a great interest
in whether the wells, over 300 ASR wells, several hundred water recovery
injection, and recovery .wells, are going to work. We look at all the other
elements as far as whether bi storage aeas large water reserves are
going to be a water users or a water enhancers. There are a lot of
questions still out there as to the feasabilit feasibility of some of the
unique ideas that have been put into the total program. In some cases, if
one doesn't work, the whole system won't work. This is going to be a long
period and we look with great interest, and hopefully, hope that they will
work because it is probably going to take all of them to work, to enhance
the water pe supply for South Florida.

G: Do you think this plan is overly dependent upon technical solutions like aquifer
storage and recovery [ASR]?

There's no question about it. It is highly, whether its overly, I wouldn't say,
but it's highly dependent. If aquifer storage and recovery does not work,
then it's back to the drawing boards. If that happens, we're fearful that the
Congress may have a different attitude against about a project of this
magnitude and find that the heart of the whole program is aquifer storage
and recovery that does not work. We're kind of betting the farm on that
and we're hopeful that it will work, that it won't cause more problems, as
some people think. We hope it's economical from a cost standpoint, but
we, in the agriculture industry, have taken the attitude that even though
we're not sure that it will work, that's the purpose of the pilot projects. We
look forward with interest as to implementing the pilot projects on ASRs,
the engineering work that needs to be [done] on these large storage
reserve areas where we have such a high rate of evaporation and
seepage. There are great questions on the viability of some of these
things, but we sure don't want to shoot them down until we see what the
pilot projects and more detailed engineering wil4do shows.

In what ways, inf any, will the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan
impact sugar production and what you're doing here?

Well, I guess the greatest concern is water supply. If, for instance, we
guarantee the natural system more water than is available, and we don't
have ASRs to grow sugarcane, we could have a diabolical result. Without
water, we can't grow agriculture crops. As I said earlier, we're betting the
farm on the items that make up CERP, and we're hopeful that they'll work.
However, all of us have some reservations, but we're not to the point that
we want to throw a hand grenade into a nitroglycerin factory and blow the
project apart. We don't want to do that. However, we have fears that
maybe others might want to do that.

Based upon what you know now, how well do you think the
Comprehensive Plan balances the needs of agriculture, the urban areas,
and the natural system?

The way the legislation is written, as contrasted with what some others are-
tyig tried to weave in that would be anti-agriculture, [and] even though
we have a lot of compromises in there, we support it now, as we
supported it back in the passage in 990 2000. The legislation provides
balance for the built and natural environments.

What's your evaluation of the implementation process by which CERP
moves forward?

I'm not personally involved in that process, but my staff tells me that it is a
pretty intricate process with a lot of checks and balances. If it's done the
way it's supposed to be done, [it] will be a good process with checks and
balances. Things [will] fit together, so that one item in the whole thing
doesn't stand on its own and we start allocating water based upon one
part of it. We have to look at all the parts as they fit together, [and] don't
evaluate [based on] any one [part]. The evaluation has to be done on the
whole system working together. People who are now jockeying around to
try to assure that they get a specified amount of water before the project is
even really started, we're fearful of that. We're comfortable as long as the
project is carried out the way the legislation envisions it to be carried out.

As the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan moves forward, how
should we evaluate its success or failure?

I think the only way to evaluate it is to evaluate the pilot projects as to
whether they are giving us a high degree of confidence that they will work
and do their part in the overall program. If we start seeing successes with
a pilot project, [such as] ASRs, or if [it] comes out that large reservoirs will
be water enhancers rather than water users, if all the parts work together,
then we will be confident that this is a good program. But if it turns out that
some of the major parts don't work, then the Corps has got to go back to
the drawing board, and then we'll have to make further judgements at that
time. The failure of any one of the major parts could cause heartache for
the natural system or for the six million people living on the east coast, or
to the 450,000 acres of sugarcane being grown and other agricultural
products being grown here in the lades EAA. A lot is yet to be seen, and
anybody that predicts what is going to be, is just [looking] into a crystal
ball. We'll build more confidence as we see the different ingredients, that
at least the pilot projects show that this probably will be feasible. But this
is going to be a long time down the road, until 200 or more ASRs are built.
As we go along, we'll get confidence that they'll work when we see the
results of pilot projects. I think it's too early to predict whether it's going to
be totally successful or partially successful or a total failure. But I can tell
you the agriculture community wants it to be successful because the need
for water in south Florida is a growing need on the east coast, [that is] not
so in agriculture and not so in the natural system. The need in the natural
system and agriculture will probably be the same fifty years from now.
The real need is the water supply [for] what's going to be on the east

I'd like to mention a few specific groups and organizations and ask you to
evaluate their overall impact on the Everglades restoration effort, starting
with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Our evaluation of the Army Corps of Engineers is very high and we would

not be here today talking if it were not for the Army Corps of Engineers.
They have taken a lot of flak from many places, but our opinion of the
Corps of Engineers has been high, with a few exceptions, when they get
certain people in there that have pressure politically to do things that are
not typical of engineers. I've got a degree in engineering and I'd like to
think that they are sounder than a lot of people in politics.

What do you think of the South Florida Water Management District?

The South Florida Water Management District, if left alone by the
Governor and by the Secretary of DEP, I think is a great organization.
They've had their ups and downs. They've had top people, professionals,
running the outfit and as long as they stay with a professional approach, in
both environmental and water management questions, and don't have too
[many] political orders from Tallahassee, the Water Management District
is an excellent organization and has had excellent management. It's been
infiltrated with some people that I personally don't agree with, who are
heavy on the environmental side and don't give a hoot about the
economics of the area. But overall the District has been an excellent
organization and the results of what they have accomplished, in our
opinion is great. If those six million people over on the east coast went
through a 1947 hurricane again, they would have a high regard for the
district. Frankly, if people in the Everglades National Park remember the
problems the Park was having before there ever was a South Florida
Water Management District, they would remember problems they were
having with fires and other things. If they put their prejudice behind them,
they would appreciate the District. The District has been good to all of
South Florida and the fellow that probably is more responsible than
anybody else, [is] Spessard L. Holland. The same year, 1948, that he was
instrumental in creating the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control
District, he also was the leader in creating the Everglades National Park.
They happened the same year, pushed by the same man. So if you ask
me who is more responsible for south Florida, the way it is today, with the
works of the District and with Everglades National Park, it is Spessard L.
Holland. [He] is the one that is more responsible for the creation of those
two entities.

National Park Service.

I've known Mr. [Richard] Ring [superintendent, Everglades National Park],
I've known Mr. Finley and they have a lot of tunnel vision and all they're
looking at is their position as a park, and that's what they're supposed to
look at. But they have been very uncooperative in sitting down with the
other stakeholders and trying to find a solution to mutual problems. Our
rubbing elbows with park people [leaves] a lot to be desired because they
are only interested in the park. [The] lesson Spessard Holland gave me,

back in the 1960s, was that it is in our interest in agriculture to try to work
with the park people and try to find mutual solutions to problems. In the
past, theyThey have been unwilling, as has the environmental community,
to sit down in a non-emotional way with our technical people and their
technical people to find technical and scientific solutions to major
problems. My biggest criticism is that they would rather fight in the courts
or in the legislature or in the Congress. And the best way, the way that
Spessard Holland taught me, was we better sit down at a table down here
in Florida and work out our problems. I've been very disappointed that we
have not been able to do that. Well, recently, the Corps recognized that
problem, and we do have people in place today, as we're doing this
interview, that we're highly hopeful that we [will be] able to sit down and
carry on a conversation on a technical basis and we look forward to
working with them, if they want to work with us.

The environmental community.

The environmental community is made up of such a broad [group] with
some groups very radical while others recognize the need for balance and
compromise. For the most part, however, lit's hard to find anyone in the
environmental community that is not driven by either trying to get
members in their organization and financial contributions, and come out
with their national magazines and state magazines, to try to blow up
something to such an extent on an emotional basis that it causes their
financial coffers to get larger. It's hard to find people in the environmental
organization that are not highly emotional, and I refer particularly to my
good friend Mary Barley. It's hard to find people in the environmental
community [who] want to sit in a room and talk about things on a technical
and scientific basis. We've just gone through conferences over setting
criteria for the Everglades, [where] the DEP brought all sides together, all
the stakeholders. It was more of an emotional outburst than it was to try
to find common ground. We have been very disappointed that we, in
agriculture, have been available, and we've let them know that we're
available to sit down and bring in our technical people and talk about
something on a scientific, technical basis to see if we can find resolution to
There are just a lot of problems that have been overlooked in this
Everglades plan. One of them is toxicity of mercury and we have been the
forerunners in trying to get that in front of the regulators [and] in front of
the environmental community. The environmental community tried to use-
that on us, that we were the blame agriculture as a contributors of
mercury, originally. That caused us to spend millions of dollars on the
mercury question, and now the regulators are taking that seriously and
they are spending literally millions of dollars on the mercury question. But
they originally all turned the4F a blind eye to it. We think that the
designated use of the area is for fish and wildlife and recreation, and we

think that what is in the pipeline now, as far as phosphorous standard-
setting, can be highly detrimental to a large population of wading birds.
We're finally making a little breakthrough in that and headway in the
recognition of that mercury because the District now has part of one of the
STAs shut down because of the mercury problem. We've been telling
them for a decade that there's a mercury problem and the mercury
problem is probably caused by an inverse relationship of phosphorous and
mercury. As you take phosphorous down, methyl mercury goes up. Now
nobody really understands why that is a result and we can show you a lot
of hypotheses and theories on that. But the truth of the matter is that in
every place, whether it be lakes in Sweden or Norway or other lakes in the
United States, there is an inverse relationship between phosphorous and
methyl mercury. We have tried to get the recognition for some time.
We're finally getting a little recognition. But there's a problem there: we
don't know how to solve it. But you don't solve it by taking phosphorous
down [to] ten parts-per-billion, because when you do that the methyl
mercury levels go up. We think the Everglades Forever Act tries to protect
the waters for its designated use and its designated use is the propagation
of fish and wildlife. Lowering phosphorous has proven that it will increase
the methylation of mercury poiseR, and we think that is something that
needs to really be looked at. But we feel like we're on this fast moving
freight train to get to ten parts-per-billion. We think that it will be a great
mistake, and we have been talking about this for years. We've got a
tremendous amount of technical and scientific work that, if it doesn't prove
it, it at least says that there is an inverse relationship and these are the

G: What about the media?

I've got to be c f abut talking abut the.i ,- ;, -.. me.P; dia be they ;jst did,; a
good piece on me that I want to show yeou before this is over. First time in
fifty yearn they said anything good about me personally. They did say
something goorld about me when I played high school football I really
compliment The [Palm Beach] Pcst and I'd like the oral h history to sho:w'
that I compliment The Post for eventually seeing the light. But seriously,
the The media prints things that are sensational, things that tend to create
controversy, and the Everglades is a great tool to create controversy and
sensationalism, [which] the media .likes. We know reporters that have a
very strong bias towards the environment, to the point of sometimes being
unreasonable., because I think we're all prejudiced to the environment.
We eat, breathe, and live in the Everglades. We don't have anything
against the environment, we want a good environment. It's disappointing
to see the way in which we-have t the media and environmental
organizations pit people against each other to try to get either funds for
GeF their organization or increase circulation of euM their paper, or
whatever the case is. The media, and it's probably a mistake to say this,

but overall, we don't think the media has been fully objective in reporting
the issues that affect the Everglades. We want to work with them. We
offer them to come out and see the Everglades. Some oAf them told me
the y can't I eav their office i nmi r thPi r efroffice in ,Plm ch. We've
had some good individuals in the media that have given us an objective
and fair break, but on a whole, the media has not really honed in on the
real issues in the Everglades, such as having diversity in the Everglades.
They've pretty well honed in on ten parts per billion espousing the
environmental line. don't think Mr. Bob King (of the Palm Beach Post)
wouldaGGept has not accepted our invitation to come out to the
Everglades to- he hasn't in the past, to come out nd sit down and go
through what we have here, as far as the results of our research, the
results -ef over a decade of research and gathering of information from a
long list of environmental consultants. I think an editorial recently
appeared in The Pcst [that] basically [said], let's stop fighting and let's
start joining together, [a] pitch that .we have used for some time, because
we can accomplish a whole lot. I came ou't with an editorial [after?]
Following Mary Barley's lsther failed litigation on Amendment V in
the Supreme Court, and as a result the editorial staff of The Palm Beach
Post came out with an editorial that in effect saying said let's stop fighting,
let's start working together to get something done for the Everglades.
That's what we've been trying to talk about, even back in the days of
meeting with Mike Finley down in the Everglades National Park in 1988.
We thank the Palm Beach Post for their wisdom.

Looking toward the future, what should be the most important goals and
priorities of the Everglades Restoration Project?

In restoration, I have to couple As far as restoration is concerned, I couple
CERP projects with in with that, in addition to what's being done GR under
the Everglades Forever Act, as a total package. I've emphasized that
water supply is part of the restoration and to some extent, not only
restoration, but actually down the road for the future, I think water supply
is the most important thing to all users of the water in south Florida. But
the thing that stands out in my mind is that we don't get impatient and
want things too fast. The whole project should be done in a very orderly
way. All of the hoops that are built into the program should be followed
and not short-circuited. There should not be attempts by anybody,
including agriculture, to try to change anything toe-Gme in their favor, or
any other group saying that the water in the water supply should be
allocated differently, until we see what the total project isursucessful will
deliver. Above all, if anyone looks at this project and says, I'm going to
oppose any part of it that's not envisioned in the legislation that came out
in 2000 and we're going to change it to my advantage over somebody
else's advantage, we think that would be detrimental to the Everglades-ifn-
the final analysis. We really look forward to trying to make the whole

project successful, and to do that, it has to be carried out in the way it was
envisioned by i the legislation. We think that things would move faster,
even on all the things that are supposed to take place, if a better dialogue
could be established between the competing stakeholders, more so than
with the regulators. The competing stakeholders are aware of [when] the
problems start, and if we could be together on carrying out this project and
get away from the litigation, I think all of us would benefit, as well as the

Final question. What are the most important lessons that you have
personally learned from your experience with Everglades issues?

I think the most important one that I learned is one I learned very early on
and that was the one that I mentioned that Senator Holland gave me.
That is 150 farmers will lose every time when it comes up against the
population of the state of Florida or the United States. That's the reason
that we have relied so heavily on consultants to tell us what the
Everglades was like, whether we're harming it or not, or what the best
thing to do [is], whether it has to do with mercury, which is a toxin, versus
phosphorous, which is a nutrient, and that is to try to establish a dialogue
with other people and other organizations. We have been successful in
establishing a dialogue with the regulators, whether it be the Water
Management District, I think we've been fairly successful there, with DEP,
with EPA, even up to the presidential staff positions e-MF Mrs. .MAGi and
others that we've met with. We have spent most of our effort trying to
keep a dialogue between our technical and scientific people going on with
the technical and the scientific people of-those people in Tallahassee, in
DEP, the Water Management District, or the Corps of Engineers. That's-
where we thought we could be more effective. We believe that we are
most effective when technical and scientific dialogue takes place. We've
been very encouraged with those relationships, but we've been somewhat
disappointed in the our efforts to deal with the environmental
organizations, both at the state and national erganizatiRon level. That has
been a disappointment.

[End of Interview]

EVG- 14
Abstract of an oral interview with George Wedgworth done on April 25, 2002 in Belle
Glade, Florida. The interviewer is Brian Gridley.

pp. 1-3 George Wedgworth talks about his family=s history in the Everglades Agricultural Area
including his father= s involvement and the Wedgeworth farms= early involvement with sugar
production. He then mentions his educational background as an agricultural engineer at
Michigan State University and his establishment of Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida
in 1960. He mentions a desire by many in the 1930s and 1940s to create the agricultural area.

pp. 4-10 Wedgworth mentions the devastation to the farms from the floods of the 1947
hurricane. He discusses the C&SF project following the hurricane including Army Corps of
Engineers public hearings for support and input, the great demand from the people for help with
the flooding, and the project moving forward slowly. He mentions House Document 643 that
considered environmental consequences. He mentions environmentalist attacks on the EAA
(Everglades Agricultural Area) throughout the decades stating many are based on myth and the
attacks reduce chances of working together for resolutions.

pp. 10-14 He feels realistic goals need to be set on what people want the Everglades to look like
taking historical Everglades into account, stating it could never look like it did 100 years ago.
Wedgworth discusses establishing a phosphorous criterion for the Everglades as the most
important problem that needs to be addressed. He discusses the importance of water quantity
and quality, as well as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan=s role and agriculture=s
role in helping with that.

pp. 14-19 Wedgworth feels that working together with the environmental community for the
Everglades provisions in WRDA (Water Resources and Development Act) was a watershed
event since their historical relationship with the environmental community was characterized by
litigation. He cites an example in 1988 with Michael Finley and Dexter Lehtinen=s lawsuit. He
criticizes the actions of the few who first signed for CERP (Comprehensive Everglades
Restoration Plan) in WRDA 2000 and then denounced parts of it. He mentions specific
individuals that played key roles in moving Everglades restoration forward.

pp. 19-23 He comments negatively on Governor Bob Graham=s Save Our Everglades program
as being primarily a political move and mentions his discussion with the governor about it. He
goes on to discuss the Florida Sugar Cane League=s environmental quality committee which
they started when they implemented air quality control measures so they could continue to burn
sugar cane. Even though his company is no longer with the League, they still work on
environmental matters.

pp. 24-27 Wedgworth discusses his reaction and the sugar industry=s reaction to Lehtinen=s
lawsuit being that Mike Finley deceived them, and that the federal government fought their
intervention into the lawsuit. He feels the litigation hindered an agreement being reached on the
water quality issue going through the SWIM (Surface Water Improvement Management)
process. He discusses the federal-state settlement agreement reached in the litigation that they
were opposed to and excluded from.

pp. 27-33 Wedgworth is supportive of the Everglades Forever Act, but feels more people should
contribute financially. He feels environmentalists were critical of the Act because they didn't
get their complete way, and says it is difficult to sit down and compromise with the
environmentalists. He feels critics of the Act want to make the sugar industry uneconomical so
it will go away. He goes on to discuss the ten parts-per-billion standard stating it is not justified
and is too low for some areas. He discusses the law allowing for different standards in different
parts of the Everglades. He goes on to explain what best management practices means for sugar

pp. 33-38 Wedgworth discusses the effort for the penny-per-pound tax on sugar production
including how it would have put his company out of business and why they decided to focus on
it, rather than Amendment V, investing so much money into the campaign. He goes on to argue
against the idea that agriculture will be moved out of the Everglades area because of soil
subsidence stating that what could move them out of there is their water supply taken away, too
much residential growth, or overtaxing and economic hardship.

pp. 38-43 He discusses the federal sugar subsidies as really a limitation on the amount of foreign
imports into the U.S. market. He discusses how the Freedom to Farm Act, which gave money to
farmers of program crops, hurt his sugar industry. He discusses the lawsuit to prevent the
Talisman land holdings sale including why they did it, his involvement, the central issues, and
how a settlement was produced. He discusses key people involved in negotiations with St. Joe
Paper Company to acquire land.

pp. 43-46 He comments on the Governor=s Commission for a Sustainable South Florida feeling
agriculture=s representation was at a minority, but felt Bubba Wade was successful in
representing agriculture. Wedgworth comments on the restudy process that led to CERP and
was happy with Tom MacVicar=s role in it all. He felt the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative
were given adequate consideration by the Corps of Engineers. He comments on the Chief=s
Report as being an embarrassment to the Corps, mentions the problems he saw in it, and states it
caused confusion and dissention.

pp. 46-52 Wedgworth=s biggest concern as CERP was being authorized was with the water
supply and the various factions fighting over it. He goes on to discuss his involvement in getting
WRDA 2000 passed and the involvement of other key people. When asked to evaluate the final
plan that was approved in WRDA, he explains that many of the proposals will have to be proven
through pilot projects, such as ASR (Aquifer Storage and Recovery) upon which he agrees the
plan is very dependent. He supports the Plan as long as it is carried out the way the legislation
envisions it to be carried out. He feels its success or failure should be evaluated through the
success or failure of its pilot projects stating if one major component doesn't work, it could hurt
the whole system, but the agricultural community wants it to be successful.

pp. 52-59 He comments positively on the Army Corps of Engineers and the Water Management
District (with the exception of a few people in it). He criticizes the National Park Service as
being uncooperative and the environmental community as being highly emotional stating it is
difficult to sit down and talk technically with either group. He discusses the environmentalists=

criticism of agriculture as contributors of mercury, including mercury=s inverse relationship
with phosphorous. He comments on the media and their strong bias towards the environment.
He feels the most important goals and priorities of the restoration project are to stick to the plan
and not attempt to change it in anyone=s favor with matters such as water supply, and to avoid
litigation. When commenting on the most important lessons learned, he mentions that they Aare
most effective when technical and scientific dialogue takes place@, however he is disappointed
in their ability to deal with environmental organizations.

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