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U.S. Sugar Rep Speaks About the Company's Alleged Role In FL Water Crisis

Malcom Wade Jr. is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Business Development of U.S. Sugar.

A representative of U.S. Sugar participated in a water quality forum in Fort Myers on Tuesday.

In a panel discussion, Malcolm Wade Jr. was the voice of “Big Sugar.” He is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Business Development of U.S. Sugar in Clewiston. The discussion centered on agricultural and environmental concerns surrounding Florida’s current water crisis. 

“There’s a lot of misconceptions, a lot of disinformation about the sugar farmers and the farmers in general south of the lake,” Wade said as he began his presentation.

Wade says his company has been unfairly blamed by environmental groups who say sugar farming is the primary source of nutrient pollution in Lake Okeechobee.

He said that since 2003, less than five percent of the water that has been pumped into the lake has come from the south of it, where U.S. Sugar is based.

"So, not my water really in the lake," Wade said. "We’re a very small percentage though as it comes to blue green algae or water being released to tide in the estuaries, its not coming from the agriculture areas south of the lake.”

Wade showed about a dozen slides to the group supporting his assertion that most of the nutrient pollution in the lake is coming from agricultural run-off from the north.

“All during cerp, we didn’t focus on north half of the lake,” Wade said.

The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, or CERP, Wade spoke about was authorized by Congress in the year 2000.

Wade also said US Sugar has given more than 120,000 acres for wetland and storm water treatment areas and adds the company is dedicated to Everglades conservation.

Andrea Perdomo is a reporter for WGCU News. She started her career in public radio as an intern for the Miami-based NPR station, WLRN. Andrea graduated from Florida International University, where she was a contributing writer for the student-run newspaper, The Panther Press, and was also a member of the university's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.