No wonder sugar people are so loathe to speak up in their own defense. This week the twisted tongues of environmentalists showed us why.
Interviewed Monday on Public Radio Station WMFE-Orlando, Judy Sanchez's words were as plain as the nose on your face.
The senior director of corporate communications and public affairs for the sugar giant was asked about Senate Bill 10, Senate President Joe Negron's proposed legislation to locate a 60,000-acre reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.
Here's what she said: “If the state were to execute that option our name’s on the contract. We’d live up to it."
But here's what WMFE interviewer Amy Green SAID she said: "... Spokeswoman Judy Sanchez says if the Legislature approves the plan, the company would honor a previous agreement authorizing the state to buy 153,000 acres."
No, Amy. Sanchez said "if the state were to execute that option." That's an ocean away from "if the Legislature approves the plan ..."
Sanchez has consistently said U.S. Sugar would not sell unless their back was against the wall, unless the state gave them no other alternative but to revert to a contract drawn up in 2010.
OK, so let's say the public radio station made an honest mistake. Maybe Senate Bill 10 isn't one of their issues.
But you know who didn't make a mistake? You know who deliberately used Amy Green's words to substitute for Judy Sanchez's words? I'll give you one guess.
If your answer is the Everglades Foundation and/or BullSugar.org, go to the head of the class.
These folks dismissed the truth, turned it into propaganda.
“We’re encouraged that the sugar industry remains at the table and be a partner in solving the Everglades and the issues relating to the Everglades because the Everglades is the water supply for 8.2 million Floridians,” said Eric Eikenberg, Everglades Foundation CEO.
BullSugar tooted out on Facebook (shown on this page): "Thanks Judy Clayton Sanchez. We must point out that while you said 'several billion' at the October 2013 price, it's only $1.13 billion ... which is less than Negron's bill asks for. Word is bond, Ms. Sanchez." Then, in bold under a sugar cane photo, BullSugar writes, "U.S. Sugar Says It Will Honor Land Contract -- If Reservoir Approved" -- Uhh, again, no it doesn't.
As Sanchez said in a statement she gave WMFE to correct their error, "These activists have said many less than brilliant things over the years, but this just may be the dumbest thing they've ever said in their continued attempts to put Florida farmers out of business."
By the way, the station has said it will not use Sanchez's statement, saying they have accurately covered U.S.. Sugar’s position.
Here is her statement in full, written before the BullSugar Facebook posting:
"Erik Eikenberg and the Everglades Foundation are grasping at straws and mischaracterizing what we have consistently stated regarding the future of our land. We are NOT interested in selling our land. We are celebrating our 85th year of farming and providing food for American families and plan to continue doing so.
"The state has a 2010 contract option for 153,000 acres of our land. However, no state or federal agency is proposing to buy our land, and we are not willing sellers. We believe the solution lies in focusing on the suite of scientifically designed, engineered and approved projects specified in the Integrated Delivery Schedule.
"Our position on this has not changed, and in sheer desperation, the Everglades Foundation is trying to twist our words to save their dream of taking our land.
"These activists have said many less than brilliant things over the years, but this just may be the dumbest thing they've ever said in their continued attempts to put Florida farmers out of business."
The public's perception of environmentalists has changed a great deal in the 21st century, and not for the better. Something like this -- deliberately misconstruing a comment in a Big Sugar interview -- is a perfect example of why.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith