Acceleration of the bipartisan effort for the reform of the sugar industry

The campaign’s goal is to prove that Big Sugar’s money is a liability, not an asset – members of Congress and candidates are better positioned to win elections without being caught off guard. The way to achieve this goal is a open letter and commitment to reject the political contributions, direct and indirect, of Big Sugar. Candidates and civil servants can take the pledge; meanwhile, advocacy groups, businesses and the general public can sign the open letter to show their support for the effort.

“The energy behind this campaign is unlike anything we’ve seen,” said smart gil, executive director of VoteWater. “Change is in the air. Floridians of all political backgrounds are fed up with the toxic impact of this industry. So we move forward knowing that the industry will fight to keep the system rigged, but also knowing that real reform is possible.”

Social and political changes set the stage for bipartisan reform

In the past, proponents of the free market, opposed to federal aid for industry, led the fight for reform with the support of American sugar-using corporations. (Current federal policy requires US companies to pay significantly more sugar than their international counterparts.)

But US policy has changed in ways that open new avenues for sugar policy reform. With the emergence of social justice movements (Black Lives Matter), national concern over damage to our natural resources (the toxic algal bloom in Florida), and bipartisan anger over political corruption, there is a opportunity to build a diverse bipartisan reform coalition like no other. we have already seen.

Tectonic political change in Florida

Florida lawmakers have long been Big Sugar’s most useful line of defense. But times are changing, including in Florida’s 20th congressional district. For the first time in decades, the home district of US Sugar elected a congressman – Sheila Cherfilus McCormick – who didn’t take money from Big Sugar during the campaign and called out the industry for its political corruption and environmental abuses. In 2020, she said that “all industries that engage in practices that endanger human health through pollution must be regulated and fined. This includes Big Sugar, which silenced lawmakers by donating important to their campaigns. Equally important, seven other candidates from both sides of the aisle took VoteWater’s “no Big Sugar money” pledge.

The district has gone from being the biggest booster of industry to one concerned with the impact of industry on the people of the district. It’s a tectonic shift.

Build a strange coalition of bedfellows

Building on the FL-20 Special Election, this campaign is being launched with support from a diverse set of Florida groups, including Muck City Black Lives Matter, Florida Clinicians for Climate Action, Florida Council of Churches, Florida Keys Outfitters and the Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club. At the national level, Patagonia supports the cause. A full list of supporters is at

The roots of the campaign in Florida are a key difference from previous sugar reform efforts. In the past, government efforts to hold big sugar companies accountable have failed in part because pro-reform politicians outside Florida have never had support in Florida. This time, a bipartisan ground swell in Florida calls for change.

“The sugar industry has no right to demand that Florida’s environment bend to its wishes,” the Republican U.S. Representative said. Brian Mast. “As a representative of the Treasure Coast and the Palm Beaches, I will not let them make clandestine deals that poison our waterways or starve the Florida Everglades.”

“I have dedicated my career in public service to fighting polluters who harm Floridians and our environment,” said the Democratic representative from Florida. Anna V. Eskamani. “Change is possible when more elected officials stand up against one of the most powerful industries in the state and say no to their practices of polluting our air and water. This campaign fights to protect our environment and our people, and I’m proud to be part of it.”

“In my community, toxic chemical ash from burning cane rains down on baby showers, weddings, funerals – and on our children’s faces every day. This is our tragic reality in 2022, and it’s It’s been that way for generations,” said Robert Mitchell, a founder of Black Lives Matter Muck City. “”Her soil is her fortune” is the slogan of our city. The truth is her soil and its people are his fortune. This campaign is the best chance we have to prove that point.”

“This campaign will limit big sugar money and influence in politics, protect the planet and improve people’s lives,” said JJ Huggins, spokesperson for Patagonia.

Contact: smart gil, [email protected]772-212-2939


Rachel J. Bradford