This in this morning from U S Sugar Corp. regarding the pending purchase plans of South Florida Water Management District to buy the company’s landholdings:
CLEWISTON â€” June 24, 2008 â€” The proposal announced by Governor Crist is the right thing for the State of Florida and appears to be at a fair price for our shareholders. It will preserve 187,000 acres of land (292 square miles or three times the size of the city of Orlando) located in environmentally strategic areas that will help resolve restoration issues for Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries and the Everglades. Sufficient land also will be available for critical water storage and treatment. This acquisition should allow remaining Everglades Agricultural Area farmers and the Everglades to be sustainable.
Even as the Governor has announced the Districtâ€™s planned acquisition of the assets of U.S. Sugar, we remain proud of our farming history in South Florida. The majority of our stockholders have held this investment for many decades and many of our employeesâ€™ families have worked on our farms and in our sugar factories for generations.
Although many of the details of the proposal need to be worked out, we expect to operate our businesses for at least a six-year transition period. This will enable us to fulfill our long-term existing business obligations. During this transition period, BMO Capital Markets Corporation will act as financial advisor to U.S. Sugar. This transition will also allow our employees and the communities around the lake to move in a new direction with new economic and lifestyle opportunities. In addition, it will give the government agencies time to plan the use of this land.
This is a bittersweet moment for a company that has been farming this land for more than four generations. However, we believe the cause is good and U.S. Sugar is proud to be part of this historic opportunity with Governor Crist to make extraordinary progress in Everglades restoration and restore much of the natural footprint of South Florida.
# # #