Sugar producers in the Everglades Agricultural Area are responsible for draining and irrigating nearly one-third of the original Everglades. Without major changes in water management and agriculture, the remaining Everglades could become an oxygen-starved cattail marsh supporting none of the original diversity of plants and animals. The downstream mangroves and estuaries could continue disappearing until the well-spring of Florida Bay's reefs and fisheries are gone.
If sugar price supports and protectionist barriers to imports are dropped, and the industry forced to pay the full costs of its water and drainage works, sugar production in South Florida (and other high cost producing areas) will fall dramatically. Consumers will benefit; efficient foreign producers will benefit; and the principal threat to the Everglades will be resolved.